The Best FIFA Football Awards 2021: Best Men’s Player, Puskas Award, favourites and date

FT Desk
  • FT Desk
  • Updated: November 28, 2021, 18:03 CET
  • 12 min read
Robert Lewandowski has told Bayern Munich he wants to quit the club

While all eyes will be on the potential winners of this season's Ballon d'Or award, the greatest players in the world will also be vying to win The Best FIFA Men’s Player award too.

Previously named the FIFA World Player of the Year after its inception in 1991 until 2009, the recently rebranded award has been called The Best FIFA Men’s Player trophy since 2016.

Germany legend Lothar Matthaus was the first winner of the FIFA World Player of the Year back in 1991 and Robert Lewandowski is the current holder having won in 2020.

FIFA continued with their award last year as Lewandowski triumphed, while the Ballon d'Or was controversially cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.


Here at FootballTransfers, we have compiled everything you need to know about the 2021 The Best FIFA Men’s Player award.

Who is nominated for The Best FIFA Football Awards 2021?

The shortlists for The Best FIFA Football Awards were unveiled on 22 November.

What is the shortlist for The Best FIFA Men's Player?

The 11 players nominated for The Best FIFA Men's Player are:

  • Karim Benzema (France / Real Madrid CF)
  • Kevin De Bruyne (Belgium / Manchester City FC)
  • Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal / Juventus FC / Manchester United FC)
  • Erling Haaland (Norway / BV Borussia 09 Dortmund)
  • Jorginho (Italy / Chelsea FC)
  • N’Golo Kanté (France / Chelsea FC)
  • Robert Lewandowski (Poland / FC Bayern München)
  • Kylian Mbappé (France / Paris Saint-Germain)
  • Lionel Messi (Argentina / FC Barcelona / Paris Saint-Germain)
  • Neymar (Brazil / Paris Saint-Germain)
  • Mohamed Salah (Egypt / Liverpool FC)

What is the shortlist for The Best FIFA Men's Coach?

Seven coaches are nominated for The Best FIFA Men's Coach. These are:

  • Antonio Conte (Italy / FC Internazionale Milano / Tottenham Hotspur FC)
  • Hansi Flick (Germany / FC Bayern München / German national team)
  • Pep Guardiola (Spain / Manchester City FC)
  • Roberto Mancini (Italy / Italian national team)
  • Lionel Sebastián Scaloni (Argentina / Argentinian national team)
  • Diego Simeone (Argentina / Atlético de Madrid)
  • Thomas Tuchel (Germany / Chelsea FC)

What is the shortlist for The Best FIFA Men's Goalkeeper?

There are five names up for The Best FIFA Men's Goalkeeper. The nominees are:

  • Alisson Becker (Brazil / Liverpool FC)
  • Gianluigi Donnarumma (Italy / AC Milan / Paris Saint-Germain)
  • Édouard Mendy (Senegal / Chelsea FC)
  • Manuel Neuer (Germany / FC Bayern München)
  • Kasper Schmeichel (Denmark / Leicester City FC)

What is the shortlist for The Best FIFA Women's Player?

Running in conjunction with the men's awards are the same prizes for women. The nominees for The Best FIFA Women's Player are:

  • Stina Blackstenius (Sweden / BK Häcken)
  • Aitana Bonmatí (Spain / FC Barcelona)
  • Lucy Bronze (England / Manchester City WFC)
  • Magdalena Eriksson (Sweden / Chelsea FC Women)
  • Caroline Graham Hansen (Norway / FC Barcelona)
  • Pernille Harder (Denmark / Chelsea FC Women)
  • Jennifer Hermoso (Spain / FC Barcelona)
  • Ji Soyun (Korea Republic / Chelsea FC Women)
  • Sam Kerr (Australia / Chelsea FC Women)
  • Vivianne Miedema (Netherlands / Arsenal WFC)
  • Alexia Putellas (Spain / FC Barcelona)
  • Christine Sinclair (Canada / Portland Thorns FC)
  • Ellen White (England / Manchester City WFC)

What is the shortlist for The Best FIFA Women's Coach?

The five nominees for The Best FIFA Women's Coach are:

  • Lluís Cortés (Spain / FC Barcelona)
  • Peter Gerhardsson (Sweden / Swedish national team)
  • Emma Hayes (England / Chelsea FC Women)
  • Beverly Priestman (England / Canadian national team)
  • Sarina Wiegman (Netherlands / Dutch national team / English national team)

What is the shortlist for The Best FIFA Women's Goalkeer?

Finally, The Best FIFA Women's Goalkeeper nominees are:

  • Ann-Katrin Berger (Germany / Chelsea FC Women)
  • Christiane Endler (Chile / Paris Saint-Germain / Olympique Lyonnais)
  • Stephanie Lynn Marie Labbé (Canada / FC Rosengård / Paris Saint-Germain)
  • Hedvig Lindahl (Sweden / Atlético de Madrid Femenino)
  • Alyssa Naeher (USA / Chicago Red Stars)

What are The Best FIFA Football Awards?

In the wake of the 1990 FIFA World Cup in Italy, FIFA decided to launch its own ceremony to celebrate the best player in the world every year. It slowly gained traction, incorporating a women’s award in 2001 as well as several other trophies that became up for grabs.

Now, there are nine awards to be won, as well as a FIFPro 11. Those nine awards are: The Best FIFA Men’s Player, The Best FIFA Women’s Player, The Best FIFA Men’s Coach, The Best FIFA Women’s Coach, FIFA Fair Play Award, FIFA Puskas Award, FIFA Fan Award, The Best FIFA Men’s Goalkeeper and the Best FIFA Women’s Goalkeeper.

How are The Best FIFA Football Awards decided and who votes? 

Unlike the aforementioned Ballon d’Or, The Best FIFA Football Awards involve fans in the voting process, giving the people a voice.

The voting for the FIFA Puskas Award, for example, sees fans vote online for one of the 11 finalists drawn up by a panel of experts, with a final trio then decided.

Fans will then be responsible for 50 per cent of the votes cast, with a panel of football experts providing the other 50 per cent to decide the eventual winner.

The FIFA Fan Award is entirely decided by fans, with no input from journalists, coaches or players when it comes to determining the winner. Three moments are chosen and fans vote online to ultimately decide the winner.

Fans also have the chance to cast their votes for The Best FIFA Men’s and Women’s Player, The Best FIFA Men’s and Women’s Coach and The Best Men’s and Women’s Goalkeeper awards.

Fans can vote for their top three favourites per category, with first choice generating five points, second choice three points, and third choice one point.

Fans make up 25% of the vote, with the other 75% coming from: national coaches of FIFA Member Associations, their team captains, and a select group of media from those countries.

Voting for this edition of the awards will take place from 22 November through until 10 December.

When and where does The Best FIFA Football Awards 2021 ceremony take place?

The 2021 The Best FIFA Football Awards ceremony will take place in the Swiss city of Zurich on 17 January, 2022. It will be a virtual ceremony due to the ongoing health measures attached to the Covid-19 crisis.

What is The Best FIFA Men’s Player award?

The Best FIFA Men’s Player is the award handed out to the best player every calendar year. As mentioned earlier, it’s decided by a combination of: national coaches of FIFA Member Associations, their team captains, a select group of media from those countries, and fans.

The current favourites for the 2021 award are: Robert Lewandowski, Kylian Mbappe, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

Previous Winners

2008Cristiano RonaldoPortugal
2009Lionel MessiArgentina
2010Lionel MessiArgentina
2011Lionel MessiArgentina
2012Lionel MessiArgentina
2013Cristiano RonaldoPortugal
2014Cristiano RonaldoPortugal
2015Lionel MessiArgentina
2016Cristiano RonaldoPortugal
2017Cristiano RonaldoPortugal
2018Luka ModricCroatia
2019Lionel MessiArgentina
2020Robert LewandowskiPoland

What is The Best FIFA Men’s Goalkeeper award?

Similar to The Best FIFA Men’s Player, but solely for goalkeepers, The Best FIFA Men’s Goalkeeper award celebrates the best player in between the sticks each calendar year, to give more recognition to a position that seldom wins individual awards. The first award was handed out in 2017.

Previous Winners

2017Gianluigi BuffonItaly
2018Thibaut CourtoisBelgium
2019Alisson BeckerBrazil
2020Manuel NeuerGermany

What is The Best FIFA Men’s Coach award?

This award celebrates the work of the best coaches in world football, and it ultimately decides which manager is considered to have been the best over the past 12 months.

Previous Winners

2016Claudio RanieriItaly
2017Zinedine ZidaneFrance
2018Didier DeschampsFrance
2019Jurgen KloppGermany
2020Jurgen KloppGermany

What is The Best FIFA Women’s Player award?

Just as with The FIFA Best Men’s Player, there is an award for the best female player each calendar year as well. It started in 2001, 10 years after the men’s award was introduced, and brings more recognition and attention to women’s football.

Previous Winners

2016Carli LloydUnited States
2017Lieke MartensNetherlands
2019Megan RapinoeUnited States
2020Lucy BronzeEngland

There are also female awards for The Best FIFA Women’s Goalkeeper, The Best FIFA Women’s Coach and a FIFA FIFPro Women’s World XI.

What is the FIFA FIFPro Men’s World 11?

Since 2005, the world players’ union FIFPRO has asked professional footballers worldwide to select the best players in the game each calendar year, with over 25,00 players participating in the vote.

The goalkeeper, as well as the three defenders, three midfielders and three forwards who received the most votes are selected for the World 11. The remaining spot in the World 11 is assigned to the outfield player with the next highest number of votes who is not selected already.

The award celebrates the best 11 players in the world each year, and gives players who don’t have a realistic shot at winning the overall award, primarily defenders, recognition for their work on the pitch.

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have the most appearances in the World 11, with 14 each. Sergio Ramos is next in terms of appearances, with 11.

Previous FIFPro Best XIs

2016: Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich); Dani Alves (Barcelona/Juventus), Gerard Pique (Barcelona), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Marcelo (Real Madrid); Andres Iniesta (Barcelona), Luka Modric (Real Madrid), Toni Kroos (Real Madrid); Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Luis Suarez (Barcelona), Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid) 

2017: Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus); Dani Alves (Juventus/Paris-Saint Germain), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus/AC Milan), Marcelo (Real Madrid); Luka Modric (Real Madrid), Toni Kroos (Real Madrid), Andres Iniesta (Barcelona); Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Neymar (PSG)

2018: David de Gea (Manchester United); Dani Alves (PSG), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Raphael Varane (Real Madrid), Marcelo (Real Madrid); Luka Modric (Real Madrid), N’Golo Kante (Chelsea), Eden Hazard (Chelsea); Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid/Juventus), Kylian Mbappe (PSG)

2019: Alisson (Liverpool); Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Matthijs de Ligt (Ajax/Juventus), Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool), Marcelo (real Madrid); Luka Modric (Real Madrid), Frenkie de Jong (Ajax/Barcelona), Eden Hazard (Chelsea/Real Madrid); Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus), Kylian Mbappe (PSG)

2020: Alisson (Liverpool); Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool), Alphonso Davies (Bayern Munich); Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich), Thiago (Bayern Munich/Liverpool), Kevin de Bruyne (Manchester City); Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich), Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus)

What is the FIFA Puskas Award?

Created in 2009 in honour of the late Ferenc Puskas, captain and star of the Hungary national team during the 1950s, the FIFA Puskas Award is handed out to the player judged to have scored the best goal of the year.

The criteria are: an aesthetically beautiful goal, awarded without distinction of championship, gender or nationality.

What is the FIFA Fair Play Award?

The FIFA Fair Play award recognises exemplary behaviour that promotes fair play, sportsmanship and compassion in football. It can be awarded to a player, a coach, a team, fans or even entire footballing communities. The winner in 2020 was Mattia Agnese, who administered critical first aid to an opponent who lost consciousness following an on-field collision.

What is the FIFA Fan Award?

The FIFA Fan award was created in 2016 and celebrates the best fan moment or event across the calendar year. 2020’s winner was Marivaldo Francisco da Silva.

2016Mohd Faiz bin SubriMalaysia
2017Olivier GiroudFrance
2018Mohamed SalahEgypt
2019Daniel ZsoriHungary
2020Heung-Min SonKorea Republic

Who will present the The Best FIFA Football Awards ceremony?

It is currently unknown who will present the ceremony. Reshmin Chowdhury and Ruud Gullit were the hosts in 2020.

Are The Best FIFA Football Awards and the Ballon d’Or the same?

No, they are not. The Ballon d’Or is a ceremony founded and run by France Football, whereas The Best FIFA Football Awards were founded and run by FIFA. They are two separate awards, although between 2010 and 2015, they merged together to form the FIFA Ballon d’Or.

They separated for 2016 and have remained two different awards since then. Before the merge, The Best FIFA Football Awards was known as FIFA World Player of the Year. You can find out more about the Ballon d’Or here.