Explained: How the World Cup Player of the Match award is awarded – and why De Bruyne was surprised

The “Player of the Match” award caused a stir at the World Cup.

The elaborate red trophy is, as you guessed it, awarded to the best player from each game in the tournament – or so you’d hope.

Kevin De Bruyne was one of several questionable first-round recipients at the Games, leading many fans to wonder: who decides how and to whom the award is presented?

the athlete is at your side to talk about it.

Who decides the World Cup Player of the Match award?

The presentation of the Player of the Match awards in each competition sparks a lot of discussion.

When co-commentators in domestic leagues like the Premier League make the choice, it’s often met with fierce disagreements on social media.

At the World Cup, however, the decision rests in the hands of the fans, with Budweiser providing the prize.

Voting takes place on the FIFA website and the voting window opens between the 60th and 88th minutes. A vote can be cast for each of the players who played in the game, regardless of whether they started the game or were substituted on with 10 minutes remaining.

That, of course, raises the possibility of it becoming a popularity contest with players like Cristiano Ronaldo – who won the award in Portugal’s win over Ghana – and Lionel Messi, who are likely to receive more votes than any other player football fans out of simply because of their status among the players the whole world.

However, there appears to be at least one player on the winning team – as was the case with Budweiser’s Premier League King of the Match awards.

What was said about the Player of the Match award at the World Cup?

Perhaps the most unlikely recipient of the Player of the Match award was Kevin De Bruyne in Belgium’s 1-0 win over Canada.

The Manchester City star was far from his best in a game in which his side were dominated.

His passing was unusually inaccurate, completing only 24 of his 34 attempted passes, while his decision making was equally poor at times.

A couple of his team-mates were far more deserving as Thibaut Courtois saved a penalty and Michy Batshuayi scored the winning goal. In our debriefing, we felt Courtois should have gotten away with the award.


Even De Bruyne wasn’t sure why he won the award (Photo: Gonzalo Arroyo – FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

After receiving the award, De Bruyne was shocked to have been voted the best player on the pitch.

“I don’t think I played a great game, I don’t know why I got the trophy. Maybe because of my name,” he said at a press conference after the game.

“We just didn’t play well as a team, especially in the first half. We started really badly, the momentum was with Canada and we couldn’t get through the press. I think there was more space than we thought.

“I don’t think we played a good game, myself included, but we found a way to win.”

Many may have felt that Cristiano Ronaldo didn’t deserve the award even after Portugal won the opening game. He scored the first goal from the penalty spot, but the role played by Bruno Fernandes in the other two goals probably only put him ahead of his former Manchester United team-mates.

In our debriefing of the game, we thought Fernandes was the standout player, as you can see below.

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Ronaldo was asked who he would have given the award to after the game, to which he replied: “I would give it to Joao Felix, Bruno Fernandes, Danilo, any of them (teammates). I would give it to the whole team because they worked so hard.”

Who has won the Player of the Match award in every World Cup game?

  • Qatar 0-2 Ecuador: Enner Valencia
  • Iran 2-6 England: Bukayo-Saka
  • Netherlands 2-0 Senegal: Cody Gakpo
  • Wales 1-1 USA: Gareth Bale
  • Saudi Arabia 2-1 Argentina: Mohammed Al-Owais
  • Tunisia 0-0 Denmark: Aissa Laidouni
  • Poland 0-0 Mexico: Guillermo Ochoa
  • Australia 1-4 France: Kylian Mbappe
  • Croatia 0-0 Morocco: Luke Modric
  • Japan 2-1 Germany: Shuichi Gonda
  • Costa Rica 0-7 Spain: Gavi
  • Canada 0-1 Belgium: Kevin De Bruyne
  • Cameroon 0-1 Switzerland: Jan Sommer
  • South Korea 0-0 Uruguay: Federico Valverde
  • Ghana 2-3 Portugal: Cristiano Ronaldo
  • Serbia 0-2 Brazil: Richardison

(Photo: Gonzalo Arroyo – FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

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