Going back all the way to 1987, the FIFA Fair Play award was the first prize of its kind presented by world football’s governing body. It was 14 years later that the FIFA Presidential Award was introduced, and FIFA.com looks back at the most noteworthy winners of both these honours since their inception.
Pre-dating FIFA’s player awards by four years, the FIFA Fair Play award was introduced to encourage fair play and boost its message on a wider scale. The first ever recipients were the fans of Scottish club Dundee United, who were given the award for their sporting behaviour following their team's 2-1 aggregate defeat by Swedish outfit IFK Goteborg in the 1987 UEFA Cup final.
The following year it was a joint award made to German footballer Frank Ordenewitz and the spectators at the Olympic Football Tournament at Seoul 1988, who gave a fantastic reception to every team in the competition. Ordenewitz was nominated for his show of sportsmanship when turning out for Werder Bremen against Cologne. The former forward admitted to the referee that he had handled the ball in the penalty area, in a game which Werder went on to lose 2-0.
Since that time the award has been bestowed on fans of clubs and national teams as well as on associations and individual players. Some of the recipients successfully overcame political problems such as the football associations of USA and Iran, who were jointly given the award for their sporting behaviour and mutual cooperation when they met in the FIFA World Cup France 1998™. The same award was made ten years later for the cooperation shown between Turkey and Armenia despite there being no diplomatic relations between the two countries.
Last year, FIFA posthumously gave the Fair Play Award to legendary and much-loved Englishman Sir Bobby Robson, who died in July 2009 after an epic career as both player and coach that was marked throughout with his trademark enthusiasm.
Courage and service rewarded
The FIFA Presidential award was first given in 2001, with the aim of rewarding institutions or individuals who worked tirelessly and selflessly in the service of football. The award could be given for either one notable event, for extended service over a number of years or for introducing new initiatives. Last year the award was given to Queen Rania of Jordan for her outstanding commitment to the '1GOAL: Education for all' initiative.
The first ever award was given by FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter to the former captain of the Trinidad and Tobago U-20 team, Marvin Lee, who was left paralysed after an injury suffered during a game. The following year it was bestowed on English actress Parminder Nagra, who played the role of Jess in the film ‘Bend it like Beckham’. Jess was a Sikh who was determined to play football despite the opposition of her family.
In 2003, meanwhile, the recipients were the Iraqi football community, who were nominated for their dedication in developing the game in their homeland despite the severe problems encountered as a result of the ongoing war. They were represented at the awards ceremony by legendary Iraqi player Hussain Saeed.
Haiti were next to receive the honour for their efforts in organising the ‘Football for Peace’ match between themselves and Brazil. They were followed in 2005 by Swedish referee Ander Frisk, and one year later by Giacinto Facchetti, an iconic former player and President of Inter Milan, who, shortly after passing away in 2006, was honoured for his efforts in promoting football.
In 2007, Brazilian superstar Pele received the award 50 years after his first international match, thus recognising his outstanding contribution to football and his efforts to combat social injustice, poverty and discrimination. The following year the award was made to Women’s Football for the rapid progress and development it has made in recent years.
And whoever wins these prestigious awards in 2010, one thing is guaranteed: they will have played a pivotal role in the growth and development of the football community, as well as encouraging the spirit of the game and fair play in the world’s most popular sport.