The pattern held for the women’s prize, too. Bev Priestman led Canada to an improbable Olympic gold in Tokyo, but she did not make the final cut, overlooked in favor of Lluís Cortés, Emma Hayes and Sarina Wiegman.
The connection is not that all of these coaches won major honors: Cortés might have led Barcelona Femení to an emphatic treble and Hayes might have won the Women’s Super League, but Wiegman saw her Dutch team knocked out in the quarterfinals of the Olympics, then left to take charge of England. The link, instead, is that they all work in Europe.
The temptation, of course, is to chalk this up to FIFA’s star-dazzled ineptitude and move along. The problem, though, is more deep-seated than that. FIFA does, of course, choose the initial shortlists of candidates for its so-called Best Awards, and it has a tendency to overlook anyone not competing in the most glamorous, most lucrative tournaments in the game.
But, occasionally, one slips through. Djamel Belmadi, of Algeria, was nominated in 2019. So, too, were River Plate’s Marcelo Gallardo and Ricardo Gareca, the Argentine in charge of Peru’s national team. Lionel Scaloni, the Argentina coach, was included this year.
That none went any further is not just to do with FIFA but with the array of players, coaches, fans and journalists who command a vote on the awards. It is not only the game’s governing body that is in thrall to the famous faces and the glamorous names of the major leagues of western Europe, but the game itself.
“It is not only Africa” that is overlooked, Mosimane said. “It is as though it does not mean as much when you win in the competitions that do not generate the most money, that do not have the biggest audiences.”