The FIFA Best awards in Milan on Monday evening caused quite a bit of controversy.
Lionel Messi was crowned The Best Men’s Player ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo and Virgil van Dijk, but the legitimacy of his triumph was marred by doubts over the voting process.
In the most unsurprising decisions of the night, Jurgen Klopp scooped the Coach of the Year award while the USA’s World Cup star Megan Rapinoe was named the Best Women’s Player.
But somehow, Leeds United were handed the Best Award for Fair Play despite their involvement in ‘Spygate’ with Derby County last season.
FIFA supposedly saw fit to acknowledge the Championship club for allowing Aston Villa to walk the ball into their net after they scored a controversial goal while an opponent lay injured on the pitch.
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Not to discredit Leeds’ admirable conduct, but it seems too soon to consider them as champions of sportsmanship given they were fined £200,000 for spying on a Derby training session.
Frank Lampard - who was in charge of the Rams at the time of the saga - has responded in the manner one would expect.
“I thought it was irony at first to get an award,” the Chelsea manager said, per BBC Sport.
Asked if he choked on his breakfast cereal when he heard the news, Lampard replied: “I did smile. Do we know who votes for these things?
“What happened with ‘Spygate’ was very well documented, and then they got fined, the rules changed slightly because of it, I felt it was improper.
“It was a strange decision for them to win that [the fair play award].
“I think everyone had the same reaction to be fair, because a lot of news was put to ‘Spygate’.
“And I think quite rightly so and it got dealt with in the right way, so when you go and give an award for fair play in the same year, then I don’t think it’s right.”
Lampard wasn’t exactly raving about the act which earned Leeds’ official commendation either.
“The moment in itself when you look back, I remember watching the game, it was a dead rubber against Villa,” he added.
“It was quite right that they give Villa the opportunity to score, quite right to level out the balance of what had happened.”
It seems every time FIFA announces the winner of an award, there’s a host of reasons to disagree.
On this occasion, you have to wonder how they could overlook ‘Spygate’ so easily.