When it comes to football’s most glamorous awards season, of which the Ballon d’Or is undoubtedly at the centre, it can be easy to be swept into one of two opposing camps when it comes the entire entity.
The first camp, with some justification, argues that individual awards in a team sport are an inherently foolish idea; that it is impossible to accurately identify the single “best” player across the globe due to the unique environments and positions of every potential candidates.
Then there is the other camp, that believes awards such as the Ballon d’Or are the pinnacle of the sport for an individual—a stance perhaps lent further weight by Cristiano Ronaldo’s tearful reaction to Monday’s coronation. Isn’t it right that the most impactful exponents on the pitch should be lauded for their achievements?
Even those who fall in the second camp—and, by and large, that is probably the majority—many acknowledge that, while Ronaldo deserves to be lauded for his 2013 campaign, it is hard to stretch such a justification to the FIFPro Team of the Year XI, a selection that (in theory) names the best 11 players of the previous calendar year.
2013’s selection was somewhat unimaginative—with four Barcelona players, three Bayern Munich stars, and two players from both Real Madrid and Paris St-Germain nominated by the 50,000 professional footballers on the panel.
While all of the players involved undoubtedly had a case for inclusion, it is hard to escape the conclusion that reputations and past performances preceded many of them (Xavi, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Dani Alves and Sergio Ramos) to ensure they were selected over other worthy candidates.
In response, here’s an alternative World XI to take on the official FIFPro selection.