This year’s FIFA Best Awards have come under a lot of criticism after the release of their World XI ultimate team.
Following a year full of new landmarks and achievements, it seems a lot of the trailblazers from 2021 were overlooked when it came to deciding the team of the year.
Instead, household names who achieved very little last year were honoured, while obvious choices were left out of the list.
There’s been lots of debate surrounding a distinct lack of players from Barcelona, who became the first Spanish side to win the Champions League, and Canada, who won their first ever Olympic gold medal in Tokyo.
One of the most puzzling parts of the World XI is that Alexia Putellas, who was awarded The Best award, did not make the cut. But perhaps the biggest head-scratcher of them all is that the awards were not decided by fans or a judges’ panel, but fellow players themselves.
Social media immediately charged to the defence of the players who were left off the list. Ballon d’Or winner Putellas, Canada captain Christine Sinclair, Women’s Super League Golden Boot winner and champion Sam Kerr were all absent from the side.
In their place featured the likes of Alex Morgan, Carli Lloyd, and Marta — all footballing icons in their own right, but ones who did not achieve a scratch on what many others accomplished in 2021.
Amid the backlash, a number of players have waded in to share their disappointment in the World XI.
Several members of the gold medal-winning Canadian national team were shocked that not one of their players were honoured for their historic triumph at the Tokyo Games last summer.
They spoke out on Twitter, calling for more research to be put into the award winners and more exposure given on women’s football.
“This is a prime example of why we need more investment, media coverage and visibility for women’s soccer,” wrote Stephanie Labbé, who played a huge part in Canada’s Olympic success and helped Paris Saint-Germain lift their first ever Division 1 Féminine title.
“Popularity shouldn’t win awards. Performances to win club and/or international championships should be rewarded but if you don’t see it you can’t award it.”
Labbé’s international teammate and Manchester City star Janine Beckie also posted about the World 11.
“How does the player who won the Ballon d’Or & FIFA Best not make this team?
“No Canadian players, won the Olympics… No Barca players, won the champions league…
“If we’re gonna say this is the BEST 11 from 2021… that doesn’t make sense.”
Heather O’Reilly, who won the World Cup and three Olympic gold medals with the USA, echoed the statements of the Canadian stars.
“Congrats to all the very talented footballers here. This is 100 percent by the players,” she wrote. “So either exposure needs to improve, or players need to take more time and research before they jot down names without much thought into recent performance. Respect the game!”
Magdalena Eriksson, Millie Bright, Lucy Bronze, and Vivianne Miedema were the only WSL players included in the list. Lyon’s Christiane Endler and Wendie Renard also made the cut, alongside Atlético Madrid’s Estefania Banini, and Barbara Bonansea of Juventus.
NWSL stars Morgan and Marta completed the lineup, alongside the recently retired Lloyd.