Petkovic: I have to set a good example
Working across a variety of different countries, with and for people of myriad backgrounds, has given Vladimir Petkovic a good grounding in understanding cultural differences and similarities. With his own upbringing and career, a naturalised Swiss born in the former Yugoslavia, who has played and coached across Europe, he is certainly well-placed to give an insight into fan culture.
It was for this reason that the Switzerland national team coach proved a great fit to sit on the panel to decide the nominees for the FIFA Fan Award, currently the subject of a worldwide fan vote on FIFA.com to select the winner. Supporters of ADO Den Haag, Borussia Dortmund and Liverpool and Iceland are in the running.
“It is certainly important, that everybody get the chance to take part in the voting process,” Petkovic told FIFA.com in an exclusive interview. “We, as coaches and players, expect the fans to be supportive and fair and on the other hand, we let them be part of it, too. With this fan voting, they also get the chance to speak up and decide who in their eyes was the best.”
Petkovic also helped decide the winner of the FIFA Fair Play Award, to be announced at the ceremony in Zurich on 9 January. His varied background perhaps lends itself to a diplomatic air.
“Being able to choose the nominees for the Fair Play Award means to me, that I, as a coach, have to set a good example to everybody when it comes down to playing fair,” Petkovic explained. “I have been doing this so far and I will try to keep respecting the game and the rules of the game in the future – together with the players and all the staff members.”
Doctor's orders During the discussion with FIFA.com, it is clear that Il Dottore (the doctor) has a calming presence. Given his medical nickname, it could perhaps be considered that in his third role in The Best FIFA Football Awards™, that of national team coach who votes for the individual player and coach award winners, he thoroughly evaluated the pros and cons of each candidate with surgical precision and coolness.
“You often look at the numbers, you look at the results that have been achieved,” Petkovic reflected on the voting process for The Best Men’s Coach. “You look against whom the teams have been played, with what difficulties they struggled and what level they were on. However, primarily, you look at the behaviour and the attitude of the coach.”
As well as directly anointing the winner of the FIFA Fan Award and FIFA Puskás Award, fan votes on FIFA.com make up 25 per cent of the final result for each individual award this year – the other 75 per cent being made up of an even split of national team coaches (including Petkovic), national team captains and select international media.
“Of course, fans evaluate the results of teams and players with different sympathies and also with much subjectivity, but that’s part of the game,” Petkovic contemplated. “I vote for players who had the opportunity to play the entire year, whether for the national team or for the club. Players, who achieved great results with the national team and with their club.”
It is this mix of the key components of world football: players, coaches, fans and media that will allow The Best awards to reflect the opinions of the entire footballing community. With his different roles in deciding the nominees and eventual victors, a homage of sorts to his own varied background and upbringing, Petkovic will no doubt be eagerly anticipating the ceremony in Zurich to see who is ultimately crowned The Best.