Scrap the silly Fifa team awards: Neil Humphreys
Daft Best XIs make no sense and lack credibility
Awards will always polarise.
They are based on opinion, taste and good, old-fashioned prejudice.
Lionel Messi devotees will insist that his artistry trounces Cristiano Ronaldo's athleticism every time, while others would not acknowledge the Argentine if he juggled the ball and his teammates across the goal line.
Differing opinions are valid, but the cult of celebrity isn't, not if football awards are to retain their credibility.
Fifa's The Best awards arguably lost their credibility the moment they decided to include those pretentious capital letters for The Best awards, but any remaining respect was lost yesterday morning.
The FIFPro men's world XI is laughably off-piste. The names appear to have been scribbled down on a coaster by a drunk at closing time.
In the interests of comedy, the World's Best XI, according to Fifa's The Best awards, are Alisson; Matthijs de Ligt, Marcelo, Sergio Ramos, Virgil van Dijk; Frenkie de Jong, Eden Hazard, Luka Modric; Cristiano Ronaldo, Kylian Mbappe and Lionel Messi.
Alisson, van Dijk, Ronaldo and Messi's inclusions are obviously warranted, but the others seem plucked from a random celebrity name generator.
Awards ceremonies are always popularity contests, to a degree, with the branding of the individual, the club and even the league often taking precedence over playing consistency across a 12-month period.
The Oscars are no different. Popular actors are often picked from favoured movies that the judges have actually seen.
But the FIFPro World XI is something else entirely, like ignoring Meryl Streep in favour of Kim Kardashian's wobbly performance in a perfume commercial.
The inclusion of four Real Madrid footballers was already baffling, but Marcelo and Sergio Ramos' names were mind-boggling, as if voters gave up on watching football highlights and checked the most popular Instagram posts instead.
Real conceded 71 goals in all competitions and ended up with only the joint-eighth-best defensive record in La Liga last season.
Ramos made 42 appearances and Marcelo wasn't far behind with 34.
They were the key culprits.
Ramos, who never met an opponent he could not hate, collected 12 yellow cards and a red card in a typically haphazard season that mirrored his club.
Real Madrid won nothing of note, sacked two managers and were humiliated in the Champions League quarter-finals, and yet four Madridistas made the Best XI.
Eden Hazard obviously got the nod for his Europa League win at Chelsea, but Marcelo, Ramos and Luka Modric could be swopped with superior replacements elsewhere.
Bernardo Silva takes out Modric easily enough, and the peerless fullbacks on Merseyside are currently among the finest footballers in the world, in any position, yet were edged out by a couple of erratic superstars from the Bernabeu.
Liverpool's Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold won the Champions League, collected 97 points in the English Premier League, chalked up 28 assists between them and realised Juergen Klopp's gegenpressing dream.
The manager's relentless obsession with quick counter-attacking rises or falls with his wide men.
Right now, he is blessed with the best in the business.
Robertson's omission looks more astonishing because of the man selected in his place.
At 31, Marcelo has enjoyed a stellar career.
But brand recognition, rather than current form, allowed him to trump Robertson.
The Scottish left-back kept 21 clean sheets in the EPL last season. In La Liga, Marcelo managed just four. That's not a fair fight. That's a mismatch.
Other footballers were conspicuous by their absence, namely N'Golo Kante, Mohamed Salah, Raheem Sterling and even Sadio Mane, but they are debatable cases, a lively pub conversation among tribal zealots.
But four players from a stagnating Real Madrid side goes beyond the usual inconsistencies of awarding individual honours in a team sport.
The selections show indifference towards the ceremony itself, undermining the more deserving winners (Messi, Klopp and Megan Rapinoe).
Each year, FIFPro asks its professional men's footballers to fill in their voting ballots for the best goalkeepers, defenders, midfielders and forwards to comprise a Best XI.
Clearly, they are not particularly fussed with the boxes they tick.
So scrap the vote.
Erratic voting patterns only lead to random selections and bizarre omissions, which undercut their validity and worth.
How can a Best XI not include Europe's best fullbacks?
Those capital letters cannot disguise the awkward fact that Fifa's The Best awards are really anything but. They are a bunch of familiar names ticked in a box.
They are not credible.
And, without integrity, we might as well treat the ceremony like a sulking Ronaldo and stay well away.