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FIFA "World" Player of the Year?

Brazilian Football by SBSenior Analyst IJanuary 13, 2009

They call it the FIFA "world" player of the year, but is this really so?

Truth is that in the men's nominations, no player in activity outside of Europe has ever been nominated for the award, save one.

Juan Román Riquelme is the only player nominated for the annual award who played for a team outside Europe within the year.

On loan to Boca Juniors from Villarreal CF for the first half of 2007 was when he received his historic nomination.

Players from several nationalities, of three continents, have however been nominated. 

Indeed, Brazilian nationals overwhelmingly lead the list having won the award on eight (8) occasions which is just one (1) shy of all European winning nationals put together—just to put it in perspective.

Many of these players were not considered, just a year before, when they played in Brazil, but suddenly became the world's best after making a move to Europe.

There already is a European Footballer of the Year award, so many question the legitimacy of a FIFA "world" award which acts as if Europe alone is somehow the world.

The fact is that players active in the leagues of other top non-European nations (such as the Argentine, the Brazilian, or the Mexican Leagues), are generally overlooked for the award.

Brazilian clubs have won the first three editions of the official FIFA Club World Cup, yet not one player from those teams was nominated for the men's world player of the year award.

Whereas the European champions that the Brazilian clubs beat in the finals of these three FIFA club world cups had more than a few players nominated for the award.

If a non-European club wins a one match versus a Champions League winner, one could say it was a fluke.

However, when South American clubs consistently beat their European counterparts, year after year, surely it shows the strength of their leagues, and invariably, their players.

Surely a more global approach to nominations would justify the use of the word "world" in this apparently all European title.

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