Lionel Messi wins ‘The Best FIFA’ men’s player of year award, beating out Mbappe, Haaland – despite journalists voting overwhelmingly in favor of Erling Haaland.
Lionel Messi has been named FIFA’s best men’s player after moving from Paris Saint-Germain to Inter Miami and leading the David Beckham-owned team to a little-known Leagues Cup title — all while single-handedly elevating soccer’s relevance in the United States.
Lionel Messi won The Best FIFA Men’s Player award for 2023 despite Erling Haaland receiving more votes from journalists and national team coaches. Messi won the vote conducted by national team captains and the public vote on FIFA.com.
How The Voting Process Tied and Messi Won
After all voting was done, Messi and Haaland were tied on 48 points. However, according to FIFA’s tie-breaking rules, Messi was declared the winner because he had received the highest number of five-point scores from the votes cast by the men’s national team captains.
The ceremony took place in London, but Messi was not present as he was preparing for Inter Miami’s worldwide preseason tour. This is the third time Messi has won this award, having previously won in 2019 and 2022.
Messi’s win was a surprise to many, as the award covered the period from December 19, 2022, to August 20, 2023, during which Messi had a subdued end to his career at Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and then joined MLS side Inter Miami in June. Despite this, Messi led Argentina to World Cup glory in December 2022 and helped Inter Miami win their first trophy, the Leagues Cup, in August 2023.
Messi was up against his former PSG teammate Kylian Mbappe and Manchester City’s Erling Haaland for the award. Haaland was a favorite to win after scoring 52 goals in his debut season with City, leading them to win the Champions League, Premier League, and FA Cup. However, Messi was crowned the winner after receiving more first-choice nominations.
Messi and Mbappe had helped PSG win the French league title, but the team underperformed in the Champions League and French Cup. Messi’s performance in the United States likely influenced some voters, as he brought star power to a league struggling for relevance in an American sports landscape dominated by the NFL and NBA. Messi scored 10 goals in seven games for Inter Miami, leading them to their first-ever trophy by winning the Leagues Cup final on August 19, one day before the FIFA award eligibility period ended.
The men’s award did not consider the World Cup, which ended 13 months ago. It recognized achievements from after the tournament through August 20. Despite this, Messi’s World Cup victory with Argentina in December 2022 likely played a significant role in his win.
The award was decided based on votes from national team captains, coaches, journalists, and fans. Messi, Mbappe, and Haaland were the finalists, but none of them attended the ceremony. Instead, Arsenal and France legend Thierry Henry, who was co-hosting the event, picked up the award in Messi’s absence.
Michael C Vang is a passionate blogger. He has been blogging since 2013 on a variety of topics. He is committed to creating informative and engaging content that helps readers learn more about everything.