The Best FIFA Fan Award: nominees in focus

  • We take a closer look at the shortlist for the FIFA Fan Award

  • Rival fans express solidarity and one girl’s impressive feat

"Football without fans is nothing" This familiar saying attributed to legendary former Celtic manager Jock Stein is as true today as it was when he first said it. The fans are the heartbeat of this most beautiful of games.

The FIFA Fan Award recognises that football supporters all around the world make our sport what it is. FIFA launched the accolade in 2016 to highlight an exceptional moment or gesture from a fan or group of fans, irrespective of league, gender or nationality.

Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund supporters were the inaugural winners of the FIFA Fan Award back in 2016. Celtic fans were honoured the next year, followed by Peru supporters in 2018, Palmeiras devotee Silvia Grecco in 2019 and, most recently, it was Brazilian fan of Sport Recife Marivaldo Francisco Da Silva who won it.

But who will take home this year’s award on 17 January 2022? You can cast your vote for one of the following three candidates.

Danish and Finnish fans

Everyone was in a state of shock after Christian Eriksen collapsed during the UEFA EURO 2020 match between Denmark and Finland. There were tears, comforting embraces and silent prayers both on the pitch and in the stands. As medics worked to resuscitate the stricken Dane, the stadium announcer asked fans to remain in their seats – and they used this time to do something very special.

Despite their worry and uncertainty, all of the fans inside the ground began chanting, with the Finns calling out "Christian" before the Danes responded with "Eriksen".

With this simple act, the fans showed that they were united, supporting one another and casting their rivalries aside. A short time later, when the announcer broke the welcome news that Eriksen was awake and stable, a deafening cheer went up from all corners of the stadium.

German football fans

After the devastating floods in Germany that claimed more than 170 lives and left over 150 people missing, fans from clubs across the country collected money, food and other items for those affected.

"We want to help people," a volunteer named Kai explained to dw.com. "If you were in this situation, you’d want someone to help you; it’s about caring for your neighbour."

"The fan groups, particularly those at BVB, are very well organised and have huge networks, which meant that they were able to organise a transporter to bring aid to the disaster area in no time," explained Johannes Bagus from the Dortmund Fan Project, an educational facility that works with young football fans in the city.

"The support and reach of Borussia Dortmund enables them to launch and implement many social and charitable projects."

Imogen Papworth-Heidel

This 11-year-old girl organised a challenge asking people to join her in doing 7.1 million keepy-uppies to raise money for key workers in the United Kingdom during the coronavirus pandemic.

Papworth-Heidel completed an impressive 1,123,586 keepy-uppies herself, reaching more than 7,000 per day during lockdowns and the summer holidays.

The remaining 5,976,414 keepy-uppies were "donated" by 2,000 sports clubs, school classes and individuals who sent videos of them joining in with the challenge to Imogen’s parents – including well-known footballers such as Manchester City’s Lucy Bronze and Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford.

"I’m just absolutely speechless at how much money we’ve raised, how many keepy-uppies have been donated and how many kind messages of support have come in,“ Imogen told the BBC.