The Best FIFA Football Awards: Lloyd takes home top honors


On an ice cold Swiss night, the great and the good of global soccer converged upon Fernsehstudio, a television studio in the north of Zurich to honor the best the game has to offer.

Carli Lloyd just after accepting the award as Best Female Player in the World for the second year in a row. Photo by Asif Burhan.

While it was utterly predictable that Cristiano Ronaldo won the men’s award after leading Real Madrid and Portugal to European titles in 2016, there was a surprise in the women’s award. For the second successive year, Houston Dash’s Carli Lloyd was voted the best female player in the world edging out Brazil’s Marta and Germany’s Melanie Behringer who scored many crucial goals for her country in their Olympic win, the only global event of the year. “I’m not necessarily surprised but given that Germany won the Olympics and Melanie’s had a fantastic year, top goalscorer. You just don’t know. While I wanted to win and I think I’ve worked extremely hard to get to this point, it does take a team to help push on in these awards”

Lloyd went on to say, “I’m incredibly honored. This award isn’t going to stop. I’m going to keep continuing to work hard. This year, I’m going to be better than I was in 2016 and want to keep involved in my game and help with my team-mates”

“It’s fantastic,” said US Soccer Chief Sunil Gulati “Carli’s had a great two years, so we’re very proud of her and as she mentioned she’s looking forward to 2017 where the team’s winning everything and getting ready for the World Cup.”

German head coach Silvia Neid took Coach of the Year being the only coah in history to win a World Cup, Regional Championship and take home an Olympic gold. Photo by Asif Burhan.

The US’ success was not replicated in the Coach of the Year award, where current and former national team coaches, Jill Ellis and Pia Sundhage were beaten to the prize by Germany’s Olympic-winning Silvia Neid. In 2016 Neid became the first coach in the history of football to win the World Cup, her regional championship (the European Championship) and Olympic Gold. “I’m very thankful, grateful and happy. It’s not just about me, it’s about my team. Without my team I would never have won. I’ve won everything I could win in the game and now I need a new challenge.”

The men’s coach award was perhaps surprisingly won by Leicester City’s Claudio Ranieri ahead of European championship winning coaches at club and international level, Zinédine Zidane, of Real Madrid, and Fernando Santos, of Portugal. Proof of the globally seismic effect of Leicester’s incomprehensible English Premiership winning season. “Unbelievable, I’m very happy. I was happy to be hear, to be nominated in the first three. I am very, very happy”. Questioned on his team’s poor form this season “I felt something different since Christmas Day and I think we are ready to go back up the table and fight more, more and more”.

A shocked Mohd Faiz Subri used his phone to help him make his acceptance speech for Goal of the Year. Photo by Asif Burhan.

They’re were many other awards on the night. The coveted Puskás Award for Goal of the Year went to Malaysian Mohd Faiz Subri who seemed genuinely shocked, causing amusement as he scrolled though his phone before making his acceptance speech seemingly searching for the correct thing to say in English.

The FIFA Fair Play Award was awarded to Brazilians Chapecoense, who were unable to compete in their first-ever Copa Sudamericana final after the majority of their team died in last month’s tragic plane crash. The Fans Award went jointly to Liverpool FC and Borussia Dortmund for their spine-tingling joint-rendition of You’ll Never Walk Alone at Anfield in an act of solidarity the day before the anniversary of the Hillsborough stadium disaster in 1989.

Such award ceremonies remind us of the role soccer will always have in uniting different nations around the world and the hope it engenders. It remains a team sport but soccer needs heroes to inspire the next generation and those heroes were rewarded tonight in Zurich. Congratulations to all the winners, who are where every child who’s ever kicked a ball dreams to be, honored by their peers as the best in the world.


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