Nothing better epitomizes the current state of end-of-season football awards than the trophy presented to UEFA’s Best Player in Europe. I can’t decide whether it looks more like the remains of a long-dead scoliosis victim, or a three-dimensional rendition of Rembrandt’s “Carcass of Beef.”
In a sane world, the UEFA Best Player in Europe award wouldn’t even exist. In the past, football’s two most prestigious individual awards – the Ballon d’Or, created by France Football magazine; and the official FIFA World Player of the Year title – occasionally went to different players, which most people preferred to a boring consensus. But FIFA viewed those periodic discrepancies as a disruption in the Force, and in 2010, FIFA president Sepp Blatter merged the two awards to form a new, 100 percent definitive title: the FIFA Ballon d’Or. Just a year later, however, as part of an “initiative…aimed at reviving the spirit” of the old Ballon d’Or, UEFA launched its own award, undermining the merger’s objective.