FNR DAILY NEWS
The Puskás Award has been turned into a popularity contest.
Mohamed Salah has been awarded the FIFA award for goal of the season for a strike which one of his teammates labelled as Salah’s “seventh best of the season”.
Salah’s goal against Everton was deemed better than Gareth Bale’s bicycle kick in the Champions League final, Cristiano Ronaldo’s bicycle kick against Juventus and Australian Riley McGree’s scorpion kick that sent shockwaves across the world.
Ironically McGree’s goal wasn’t considered one of the top three goals of the season.
You may be wondering why McGree’s once in a lifetime strike in the A-League semi-final didn’t make the top three?
Well it’s quite simple. McGree isn’t as popular as Salah.
The Puskás Award is partially decided by public vote. Salah received 38 per cent of the 500,000 votes cast, while Ronaldo (22 per cent) and Giorgian De Arrascaeta of Cruzeiro (17 per cent) rounded out the top three.
It is incredible to think an official FIFA award can be decided by the fans.
When it comes to popularity, no one is going to beat Salah.
The Liverpool winger is considered the most beloved citizen in Egypt, which is a nation with a population of over 95 million.
“This is a country that is obsessed with football,” Egyptian football fan Omar Ashraf told the Liverpool Echo.
“It’s intrinsically linked to politics, culture, and feuds between different cities. Mohamed Salah is quite literally the most unifying Egyptian person in years.
“Mohamed never played for El-Ahly or El-Zamalek, who are the big two in Egypt, before he left for Europe, so there was no reason for either of the massive contingents to turn on him.”
FIFA should have seen the issue coming as Salah has won previous fan-voted awards in unusual circumstances.
In April, Salah was named the Champions League Player of the Week after playing only 53 minutes against Manchester City.
The Liverpool ace did score and assist, but in that same week Cristiano Ronaldo produced a bicycle kick, scored a brace and assisted away to Juventus in 90 minutes of play.
Fan votes are known to lead to popularity contests, as in the 2015 Premier League season. The BBC’s goal of the season poll was spoiled by Arsenal fans who voted in mass to elect Jack Wilshere’s strike against West Brom as the goal of the season.
After the saga, the BBC stopped allowing fans the opportunity to vote, opting to allow their panel of pundits to select a winner from a fan-voted top three.
Maybe FIFA can take a leaf out of the BBC to prevent this issue happening again.