Barcelona's Ernesto Valverde: Too many awards turning football into 'show business'

BARCELONA -- Ernesto Valverde lamented football's diversion into "show business" after Luka Modric was crowned FIFA's The Best for 2018 on Monday, ending Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi's decade-long hold on world football's top individual honour.

Real Madrid midfielder Modric beat Ronaldo and Mohamed Salah to the prize after a season which saw him win the Champions League with his club before leading Croatia to a first-ever World Cup final.

Modric was also named UEFA's Player of the Year for the 2017-18 season last month and could complete a treble of individual gongs if he wins France Football's Ballon d'Or later this year.

Barcelona coach Valverde, though, feels the number of awards is not helpful to players and bemoaned the media furor and fan debate which each prize generates.

"I remember a time when there weren't so many awards given out and there was less media noise," he said in a news conference on Tuesday.

"Now there are a lot of awards, a lot of galas... everything is magnified because of that. All these ceremonies are self-promotion for those that are hosting them.

"There's a lot of noise from the media and they like to stir up controversy. This is a sport but it's becoming more and more similar to show business."

Despite that, Valverde still indulged in the debate surrounding The Best, suggesting that Messi, who finished fifth, would have been a more worthy winner of the award after the Argentine helped Barca win a league and cup double last season.

"Everyone has their own opinion," he added when asked if Modric deserved to win. "It's not the moment to compare players. Modric had a great year, but it's an award which says The Best and the best is not there... For us, it's Leo."

Valverde was speaking ahead of Barca's trip to Leganes on Wednesday. The La Liga champions are looking to get back to winning ways after being held by Girona at the weekend as they dropped points for the first time this season.

Brazilian forward Malcom is available again after recovering from an ankle problem but Barca will be without defender Clement Lenglet after the league's Competition Committee dismissed their appeal against his red card against Girona.

Lenglet will serve a one-game suspension after VAR was used to determine that he elbowed Pere Pons as the two competed for a long ball. Valverde accepts the ban but admitted he's still not sure about when the technology can and cannot be used.

"Look, we all want technology to make football fairer and to help referees," he said. "I've been waiting to see how [VAR] stopped the game and what sort of role it would play in terms of the importance [of the incidents].

"I thought it would be more for obvious situations, [like] if the ball is over the line or not, those type of things. There are things I like about it; things I am not so sure about.

"What importance does the play have [for Lenglet's dismissal]? I thought VAR was supposed to cover more relevant areas of the game on the pitch: penalties, goals... but I don't know what the limit is or what the barometer is."