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Time to take fresh look at World Cup

Should Lionel Messi being the planet's best for 2010 and Qatar getting the 2022 World Cup finals merit a fresh look at football's biggest extravaganza?

sports Updated: Jan 11, 2011 23:42 IST
Dhiman Sarkar

Should Lionel Messi being the planet's best for 2010 and Qatar getting the 2022 World Cup finals merit a fresh look at football's biggest extravaganza?

About Messi first. Week in, week out the most gifted footballer of this generation makes magic seem like normal service for Barcelona. Last season, he scored 47 goals in 53 matches for his club. He mesmerised Arsenal in the Champions League - leading to Arsene Wenger talking about Barcelona playing 'PlayStation Football' - and in November made Brazil look ordinary in the heat of Qatar.

And like Paul Gascoigne and Ronaldinho, Messi usually shows his seemingly incomprehensible range of tricks with a smile. He also comes across as a more regular guy, grounded enough to not get carried away by the glitz of big-time football.

So far, so good.

But 2010 was also the year of the World Cup and voted Player of the Year last January, Messi went to South Africa primed for success.

He left without scoring a goal and outmaneuvered by Bastian Schweinsteiger in the quarterfinal at Cape Town's Green Point Stadium.

More than once in South Africa, Messi spoke of the national team playing like Barcelona but steamrolled by Germany, Argentina made an ignominious exit from what was supposed to have been a Messi-Maradona show.

Even Argentina's qualification wasn't smooth and it was Martin Palermo not Messi who had turned savour.

Contrast this with Xavi winning the World Cup and notching up an incredible array of accurate passes through the tournament. And it isn't as if he had a poor season in the midfield with Barcelona. But he finished third for the second year in a row.

Andres Iniesta, also on the three-player shortlist, scored the final's only goal to give Spain their first World Cup. But for the first time since 1995 has the prize not gone to a World Cup winner. Then, George Weah was chosen despite Liberia not making the 1994 finals.

Messi's surprise doesn't seem out of place. But his polling the maximum number of votes seems to underscore Sir Alex Ferguson's comment that watching the last World Cup was like visiting a dentist.

Little over a month before this, tiny Qatar got the right to stage Asia's second World Cup again through votes. Probably FIFA's search for a new market led to Sepp Blatter stating that the Arab world deserves a World Cup.