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Kaka deserved FIFA world player award
Tuesday, December 18, 2007 | 08:28 AM ET
AC Milan star Kaka was crowned FIFA's world player of the year on Monday, beating out FC Barcelona's Lionel Messi and Manchester United winger Cristiano Ronaldo for the honour.
I've long been a critic of the voting system for the award, as all too often voters cast their ballots based on a player's popularity or celebrity, and not their skill or accomplishments.
A perfect example of this came in 2003 when the Czech Republic's Pavel Nedved, a gritty midfielder who's not incredibly flashy, won the Ballon d'Or as the European player of the year but, inexplicably, he wasn't even a finalist for the FIFA world player award (Zinedine Zidane beat out Thierry Henry and Ronaldo, three players who delight fans with their flashy play).
It was David Beckham's celebrity that resulted in him finishing runner-up for the FIFA award in 1999 and 2001, because, Lord knows, at no time in his career was he ever among the top five players in the world, let alone the second-best.
But I digress.
No doubt the selection of Kaka didn't sit well with a lot of people who felt Ronaldo should have won the award, but there really was only one player who deserved to claim the honour, and that was Kaka.
Yes, Ronaldo had a better domestic campaign compared to Kaka. The Portuguese star was the best player in the Premiership last season and helped United win its first league title since 2003, but he was virtually non-existent in the Champions League.
By comparison, Kaka had a respectable (not great) Serie A campaign, but he was the top scorer in last season's Champions League with 10 goals, including a two-goal performance against Manchester United at Old Trafford (a 3-2 Milan loss) that was hailed by pundits as one of the best of the competition.
He followed that up with a masterful performance in a 3-0 win in the home leg of the semifinal, out-performing Ronaldo once again.
And that's why Kaka deserved the award more than Ronaldo - the Brazilian was the best player in club soccer's most prestigious tournament, competing against the best players and the best teams in the world.
Ronaldo was simply the best player in the Premiership - a laudable accomplishment, to be sure, but not worthy of winning the FIFA world player of the year award.
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About the Author
John F. Molinaro is a reporter for CBC Sport Online whose chief love is international soccer. John served as senior editor of Sports Online's Euro 2004 website, which helped him win a CBC.ca Award of Excellence, and was the driving force behind our coverage of the 2006 FIFA World Cup. He holds an honours BA in sociology from York University and a print journalism diploma from Sheridan College, and is also the author of The Top 100 Pro Wrestlers of All Time (Stewart House, 2002).
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