Prior to our first match in the World Cup, Abdullah Al Dabal, a senior SAFF official, said Saudi players chosen as FIFA’s man of the match during their World Cup games will refuse the award because it is sponsored by a famous beer manufacturer. “Saudi players will not accept an award linked to the maker of an alcoholic beverage,” he said, because “Saudi Arabia is the birthplace of Islam.” Therefore, none of our players would be chosen for the award no matter how good he plays. Frustrating, I have to say, and I’m afraid this was not necessary at all.
The award is given by FIFA, not the beer company, and the player is chosen by a group of world’s best coaches, not some drunk dudes. In the history of the game, player chosen for the award will be called Man of the Match, and not Budweiser Man of the Match because the sponsor will be replaced someday, but the award will stay in the records of the tournament forever. It is not like the winner player will do any promotional work for the beer company; meanwhile I think the company is very happy because such action by the Saudis has given them more publicity than they actually hoped for when they sponsored this award.
I feel sorry for our players, even though Mr. Al Dabal said “they understood.” It is said that Khalid Aziz, defensive midfielder of our team, was chosen for the award in the first match, but it was then given to the Tunisian striker Ziad Jaziri. It is a pity the great performances of our players in the most important football tournament in the world will not be recognized.