For most fans, watching sports is usually just about who wins per match, how that affects their team’s standing, and who wins the tournament championship. That’s all well and good, of course, because why wouldn’t we want the team we support to take the winner’s trophy all the way home, right? Outside of supporting the team, however, we may also have a few players in particular who were rooting for. That’s where the individual tournament awards come in - like the FIFA World Cup awards, for example!
Most, if not all, sports leagues give out individual awards apart from the championship and runner-up trophies in order to recognize certain players for the feats they accomplished both during the final match and throughout the tournament in general. This is also the case with the biggest international tournament in the world – which rewards both individual and team awards!
The next section will break down each of the FIFA World Cup awards that are given at the end of the tournament. Hopefully, you’ll learn more about what each award is for, how it started, and even some players who have bagged that award multiple times!
Currently, there are five official FIFA World Cup awards that are awarded after the finals match (a combination of both solo and team awards), and one that is given for every tournament fixture. On top of those, there are two awards given that are voted on by the general public.
Let’s take a look at these awards below!
The Golden Ball is the first of the individual FIFA World Cup awards and it’s given to the tournament’s best player. It was first introduced during the 1982 tournament and has continued to be one of the highest honors with the World Cup. Currently, the Golden Ball award is sponsored by Adidas and France Football magazine (which also presents the prestigious yearly Ballon d’Or award – essentially the Golden Ball for the best player for that year!).
At the end of the World Cup, FIFA comes up with a shortlist of players who they believe to have performed the best throughout the tournament. Then, the winner is determined by the members of the media through voting! Of course, the runners-up are awarded the Silver Ball and Bronze Ball, respectively.
Since its inception, there have been 10 Golden Ball winners spread across 7 countries so far, although no player has ever won it twice. Italy, Brazil, and Argentina have 2 Golden Ball trophies while Germany, Croatia, France, and Uruguay each have 1. From first winner to the most recent, the FIFA World Cup awards for Golden Ball are:
Now, the FIFA World Cup awards don’t just apply to the men’s tournament! The Women’s World Cup began in 1991 and thus, has had a Golden Ball recipient each year, with the United States taking home the most at 3 trophies so far. The winners thus far are:
Next on the list of FIFA World Cup awards is the Golden Boot, which has a much more easily determinable criteria for awarding. Of course, it still honors the best player in a certain aspect but this time, it’s given to the one who scored the most goals throughout the entire tournament! Like the Golden Ball, this award was first officially given in 1982 (though the top goalscorer was always recognized since the start); it was originally named the Golden Shoe but this name changed to what it is now during the 2010 league.
With the main determining factor being the number of goals, it’s one of the few FIFA World Cup awards that could easily end with a tie. In these cases, the award goes to the player who had the most scoring assists (where assists counted are determined by the FIFA Technical Study Group). If there’s still a tie, then it goes to the player with fewer minutes of playing time, as this would result in a higher goals per minute average.
Despite there being only 10 World Cups since 1982, there are 11 winners of the Golden Boot so far. That’s because in 1994, Russia’s Oleg Salenko and Bulgaria’s Hristo Stoichkov both received the trophy as they had still remained tied after the assists tiebreaker. As such, there was also no Silver Boot that year and, coincidentally enough, yet another tie for the Bronze Boot!
As for the women’s FIFA World Cup awards for the Golden Boot, the United States’ Michelle Akers continues to take the proverbial cake since her 1991 trophy win, since she still tops the list with a whopping 10 goals that year!
As you might have guessed, if the Golden Boot is for most goals scored, then the Golden Glove of course is for the top performing goalkeeper throughout the final competition! When this award was first given in 1994, it was named the Lev Yashin Award to honor the late goalkeeper from the Soviet, but alongside the previously mentioned FIFA World Cup awards, it was renamed to the Golden Glove in 2010.
This award may be specifically for goalies, but that doesn’t preclude them from eligibility for the Golden Ball award – though so far, Oliver Kahn is the only goalkeeper who has won both (during the 2002 league). In the event of a tie, there are a few established tiebreakers in place as is the case with the previous FIFA World Cup awards: first is for the goalie with the furthest progression, then number of saves made, and finally, minutes played.
For the men’s league, Germany has taken it twice (Oliver Kahn and Manuel Neuer), Belgium also twice (Michel Preud’homme and Thibaut Courtois), France once (Fabien Barthez), Italy once (Gianluigi Buffon), and Spain once (Iker Casillas). As for the women’s league, the United States has won it three times (Briana Scurry and Hope Solo - twice consecutively!), Germany twice (Silke Rottenberg and Nadine Angerer), China once (Gao Hong), and the Netherlands once (Sari van Veenendaal).
The FIFA World Cup awards for the Best Young Player first came a little later in 2006 and since then, it has been given to the best player in the tournament who is at most 21 years old by the time of that calendar year! So for example, a player would be eligible for this award during the 2023 tournament if he were born in 2002. The recipient of the Best Young Player award is determined by vote on the league’s official website, helped by the FIFA Technical Study Group.
Despite having begun in just 2006, previous World Cup tournaments did name the ‘best young player’ during the league between 1958 and 2002, it’s just the year after that it became an official award. Considering it’s still fairly new, only four young men have received it (two from Germany – Lukas Podolski and Thomas Müller – and two from France – Paul Pogba and Kylian Mbappé), while three have been awarded for the women’s World Cup (Caitlin Foord from Austraila, Kadeisha Buchanan from Canada, and Giulia Gwinn from Germany).
The objective of the FIFA Fair Play Trophy is really in the name itself: fair play. This is the first of the official FIFA World Cup awards (outside of the place trophies, of course!) that is given to the team instead of an individual player. The Fair Play Trophy was first given in 1970 and it’s awarded to the team with the best record of fair play (or sportsmanship) during the tournament – though only teams that advanced to the second round are qualified to receive it.
Not only does the team receive the trophy and a diploma, but they also receive football equipment (currently set at being worth $50,000!) to be used for developing their youth teams. Additionally, all team members and officials also receive a medal.
The Brazil men’s national team has received this four times with Spain close behind with three, while the French and Chinese women’s national teams have both won it twice.
Last of the FIFA World Cup awards is the Man of the Match (or Player of the Match for the women’s league). This is the only one of the official FIFA World Cup awards that is presented after each match as opposed to after the entire tournament. Since 2002/2003, this award has been given to the most outstanding player during that particular game.
Originally, the 2002 and 2006 process for the men’s league was done through a technical group but this changed once again in 2010. The technical group for the women’s league stayed on until 2015, however, with the change enacted in 2019. Now, the winner is chosen through an online poll on FIFA’s official website.
Apart from these awards, FIFA also gives a trophy for Goal of the Tournament – the best goal that’s likely to live on in legends – and Most Entertaining Team – the team that gave the most entertainment to the public – which are given according to popular vote.
These FIFA World Cup awards may be something you and some friends could build friendly bets around – who do you think will win this round’s Man of the Match? From there, you could even try betting on the World Cup odds in general. If that’s the case, Oppabet is here to help you cover all your sportsbetting needs. Sign up on Oppabet today!
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