Here we go again. Greatest Footballer of All Time
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Here we go again. Greatest Footballer of All Time

  Jul 8 2018

# Planning and Strategy Management

The FIFA World Cup is arguably the world’s most anticipated sports event. Every 4 years, millions of passionate fans from across the world cheer their team in the hope it would capture the golden FIFA World Cup Trophy. FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 has seen a number of surprising results early in the tournament’s group stage: Defeats to Germany and Argentina, a draw for Brazil and marginal wins for France and Spain. Football powerhouses are struggling, their die-hard fans are worried and I am carefully observing an interesting debate. Who is the GOAT (Greatest of All Time)? The Argentinian captain Lionel Messi or the Portuguese captain Cristiano Ronaldo. Both of their respective teams have been eliminated in the round of 16 which by many is considered a disappointing result for both Argentina and Portugal.

During every major sports tournament, pundits get busy comparing the performance of players and their contribution to their respective teams. This year’s version of the World Cup is amplifying the debate on social media between fans Messi and Ronaldo. As an observer, I have noticed that each camp has used a variety of criteria to support their player and prove their worthiness to football’s Greatest of All Time throne.

Without fueling this argument further, my interest lies in the criteria to consider in this debate. In my corporate world, such criteria are known as key performance indicators (KPIs) - or measures used to monitor and assess the performance of an organization, department or individual employee. Number of goals scored per tournament or season, number of assists, accuracy of completed passes (measured in percentage), Number of tournaments won, Number of Balon D’or trophies (most valuable player award, handed out yearly), are all examples of KPIs that can be used to measure and monitor the performance of a football player. However, how fair or accurate is it to include individual KPIs in a team sport? And does it take only one football player or a team of players to accomplish some of these KPIs?

One of the characteristics of a good KPI is “owned by one individual”. In other words, to monitor and measure fairly the performance of an employee in an organization, the employee’s KPI has to be influenced solely (or to a great extent) by the employee himself and by no other external factor. To use such a characteristic in the GOAT debate would require the elimination of a some criteria, namely, number of tournaments won (dependent on the entire team and not just one player) and number of goals scored (goals that require a team effort in building up the attack and not the stand-alone free kicks).

The debate will never stop, however, the more interesting debate for me is that of the impact of a footballer’s performance on the criteria (KPIs) used in arguing for the GOAT.