FIFA Fair Play Award
Some residents of planet football consider winning the ultimate. The only purpose of playing the sport. For others though, there are values which need to be held even higher than those which bring victory. In April 2019, Marcelo Bielsa and the Leeds United squad were chasing automatic promotion to the English Premier League – a promised land that the side had been chasing since their relegation from the top flight in 2004. They faced Aston Villa, and went 1-0 up. However, Mateusz Klich’s goal was scored while a Villa player lay injured. Bielsa ordered his side to allow the opposition to equalise.
The game finished 1-1, ultimately allowing their promotion rivals Sheffield United to guarantee their automatic spot in the Premier League, at Leeds’ expense. At the season’s conclusion, Leeds remained in the division after failing to gain promotion via the play-offs. What was at stake makes Bielsa’s act all the more remarkable, with the Argentinean coach and his side receiving the 2019 FIFA Fair Play Award for his side’s commendable act of sportsmanship.