With Mohamed Salah bizarrely omitted from the FIFA Team of the Year for 2021, despite being named third-best player in the world, fans have been left baffled.
It happens every year, but it never fails to surprise, as FIFA’s annual awards night – known as ‘The Best’ – never quite recognises the best players.
On Monday night, Robert Lewandowski was named Men’s Player of the Year ahead of both Salah (third) and Lionel Messi (second), based on votes from international managers, captains and the media.
Given Lewandowski’s form throughout 2021, it was arguably the right decision, with the Bayern Munich striker previously denied a Ballon d’Or despite his immense record.
But the announcement of FIFA’s Team of the Year was met with a baffled response by fans, with Salah left out entirely in favour of a four-man attack of Messi, Lewandowski, Erling Haaland and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Ronaldo was even given a ‘FIFA Special Award’ for some reason.
Liverpool fans are, of course, accustomed to their No. 11 being overlooked when it comes to wider recognition, but many took to social media to criticise his omission:
Mohamed Salah is the most disrespected footballer on planet earth.
What an absolute joke not including him in “Fifa’s The Best XI”.
Credibility being lost for them.
Absolute disgrace. pic.twitter.com/VWO1DV7j7o
— ?????? (@KIopptinho) January 17, 2022
Mo Salah is the most disrespected player in the world, pass it on.
— Samuel (@SamueILFC) January 17, 2022
Mo Salah is the most disrespected player. pic.twitter.com/4wFUUixZO9
— Kaylene (@Lfcqueen21) January 17, 2022
WHEN WILL THEY EVER RESPECT MOHAMED SALAH, WHEN???
— ????? (@karlaslfc) January 17, 2022
I don’t know what’s more embarrassing the 3-3-4 formation or the fact they completely ignore Salah’s existence. pic.twitter.com/Vr1YZRtpa3
— Rebekka (@rebekkarnold) January 17, 2022
4 attackers ?? also how can salah be confirmed in top 3 players and not in toty. This is like 2018 when he was top 3 nominee and they put hazard in CM ? https://t.co/EJ4efBRh1F
— Belinder (@_bubblxs) January 17, 2022
Salah is in the top 3 for the FIFA awards but Haaland & Ronaldo were included over him in the XI
Mendy won the goalkeeper of the year award but Donnarumma was included over him in the XI
Joke of a institution
— – (@PassLikeThiago) January 17, 2022
So the best 11 in the world has a 334 formation just to include Messi and Ronaldo (who has been absolute gash) but there's still no space for Mo Salah. Never seen so much shite in my life. No credibility whatsoever.
— LFC Dagger (@lfc_dagger) January 17, 2022
Can anyone explain how Salah is in the top 3 for the FIFA awards but CR7 and Haaland were included over him in the XI?
Makes zero sense. Better yet, makes NEGATIVE sense.
— EiF (@EiFSoccer) January 17, 2022
No Salah ??
This is why I never take these awards seriously and never have. This is actually shocking pic.twitter.com/1A7idXA7tL
— Blessed Bobby (@BlessedBobby_) January 17, 2022
MOHAMED SALAH IS NOT INCLUDED IN FIFA’S #TheBest XI
— KingFut.com (@King_Fut) January 17, 2022
If Salah was a South American named Salahinho Jr – he would have won 2 Ballon D’ors by now.
The most disrespected player in world football. We all know you’re the king, Mo. ??? pic.twitter.com/bRFIVPC4bS
— Salah Royalty ? (@SalahRoyalty) January 17, 2022
To Salah himself, while individual awards are a worthy acknowledgement of his efforts on the pitch, he is aware of the political nature of prizes handed down by the likes of FIFA and UEFA.
In an interview with GQ, released this month, he insisted he was “not really bothered” by outside views on his performances.
“If you asked me if this was a drive for me to be here? Yeah, of course,” he said.
“I can’t really lie and say honestly I didn’t think about it. No, I think about it. I want to be the best player in the world.
“But I will have a good life even if I don’t win [the Ballon d’Or]. My life is OK, everything is fine. Sometimes I feel it’s just politics.”