Updated January 16th, 2024 at 15:28 IST

'Biggest robbery in sporting award history': Lionel Messi winning FIFA Best Award sparks outrage

Fans make a mockery of FIFA after Erling Haaland lost out to Messi for the FIFA Best Men's Player title in 2023, despite being one of the most decorated players

Lionel Messi's award sparks online outrage
Lionel Messi's award sparks online outrage | Image:AP/

Popular Argentine footballer Lionel Messi won the Best FIFA Men's Player Award for the third year in a row after a close contest with Norwegian forward Erling Haaland. The winners were announced in a stunning ceremony in London on Monday, January 16, 2024, with the gifted striker Aitana Bonmati of Spain and Barcelona taking home the coveted Best FIFA Women's Player Award.

3 things you need to know 

  • Lionel Messi won the FIFA Men’s Player Award 
  • Aitana Bonmati received the FIFA Women’s Player Award 
  • Pep Guardiola won ‌Best Men's Manager of the Year award

Also Read: Lionel Messi, Bonmati claim top honours: Check list of FIFA Awards 2023


Was Lionel Messi’s 2023 season worthy enough to win the best player in the world award? 

With the 2023 FIFA The Best award, Lionel Messi achieved a record-tying eighth victory in his legendary career. Messi was awarded FIFA's Best Men's Player during the event on Monday at the Hammersmith Apollo theater in west London. No other player has won more than five of these honours.


The Argentine icon was essential to Paris Saint-Germain's Ligue 1 championship victory in 2023. Later that summer, he signed a free agent contract with Inter Miami, where he helped the Herons win their first Leagues Cup and bring home their first title. Messi's impact was so great that he led the squad to the US Open Cup final in 2023. Lionel Messi played in 44 games throughout the allotted time, scoring 28 goals and dishing out 12 assists. 

Fans react to Lionel Messi winning the Best Player Award 

Outrage at Lionel Messi winning FIFA's Best Men's Player Award for 2023 over Erling Haaland and Kylian Mbappe was voiced by football enthusiasts on Twitter, now known as X.

The dispute started after Mbappe scored 35 points and Messi and Haaland matched at 48. Despite this, the Argentine icon won because more national team captains (13 to 11) nominated him as their first choice. Notably, Messi had won the Ballon d'Or for 2023 the year before, surpassing both Haaland and Mbappe.


Erling Haaland's outstanding 2023 campaign saw him score 50 goals for his nation and club, helping Manchester City win a historic treble and recent UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup victory that too after including the the FA Cup, the Premier League, and the UEFA Champions League. Haaland also broke the record for most goals scored in a single season.

With its alleged assessment of merely the calendar year, Haaland was viewed by many supporters as the favourite for the FIFA Best award. Fans were taken aback when Messi was declared the winner, and their responses on Twitter sparked a lively debate regarding the results on social media.


Published January 16th, 2024 at 10:51 IST

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