Was This Really The Greatest World Cup Goal Or Are Mexico Fans Really Good At Voting?

Manuel Negrete’s goal in the 1986 was great, but was it really the greatest?

We are going to go on record here and say that democracy is, generally, a good thing. Voting for leaders, holding them accountable with a free press and repeating the process is probably the most effective way to run a government. But when it comes to deciding the greatest World Cup goal of all time, voting might not be the best method.

Case in point: FIFA recently held a vote from March 31 to April 9 where Facebook users could choose the best World Cup goals. Fans across the world chose a scissor kick from Mexico’s Manuel Negrete as the greatest World Cup goal. While impressive, you would be forgiven for not being immediately familiar with the goal, so here’s a refresher. 

Fantastic strike, no? If you lived in a cave and just saw the final, which pitted Negrete against a long-range volley from Brazil’s Eder, you could be forgiven for saying it was the greatest. Unfortunately, and not for the first time, democracy failed us. #notmygoal

The Manuel Negrete goal against Bulgaria in 1986 at the Estadio Azteca was amazing. It sent El Tri into the quarterfinals of an event Mexico was hosting and is now honored by a plaque at the Azteca. But even the most ardent of Mexico fans would be hard pressed to claim, with a straight face, this was the best goal of the 1986 tournament, let alone the greatest World Cup goal ever. The voters let us astray. 

Because we can’t just say Russia did it and move along, let’s dissect what exactly happened here.

First, let’s just go ahead and mention the elephant in the room. We all know that Diego Maradona’s Goal of the Century against England in 1986 was the greatest World Cup goal of all time. We aren’t going to even listen to any debate suggesting otherwise, mainly because it’s Monday and we don’t have time for any of your shit. 

So why wasn’t Maradona’s magnificent solo run voted the top goal? Turns out, it was upset in the first round by Teofilo Cubillas’ free kick against Scotland for Peru in 1978. Cubillas’ goal was nice, but c’mon, that’s like voting for anchovies on your pizza — some people may like it but you'll never convince the majority it belongs on pizza. 

Greatest World Cup Goal

The bracket FIFA created to decide the greatest World Cup goal. Photo: @fifaworldcup | Facebook

But the Peru goal winning in the first round over Maradona illustrates exactly how Negrete’s goal was able to win the competition. It wasn’t about which goals were the best, but which country turned out to vote the quickest. These votes were held over short periods of time. If you look at the first-round vote between Maradona and Cubillas now, Maradona has more than twice as many votes. But when FIFA’s social media department tallied the votes, Cubillas held the edge. 

Peru has some pretty ardent fans and this was apparent with Cubillas’ ability to survive and advance through the bracket longer than might be expected for a good-not-great free kick. We already knew Mexico has some of the most passionate fans in the world, so it makes sense they turned a pretty great goal into the “greatest World Cup goal of all time.” Negrete’s strike also beat out Maxi Rodriguez vs. Mexico, Pele vs. Sweden, Dennis Bergkamp vs. Argentina and James Rodriguez vs. Uruguay.

Mexico’s only other entry in the competition was a header from Jared Borgetti. He may be El Tri’s second all-time leading goal scorer, but it was a fairly average header and was beaten in the first round by Ronaldinho’s free kick against England (which was better than Cubillas’). 

So the lesson to learn from all of this FIFA mess is that Mexico’s fans clearly give more shits on Facebook than any other country. Also, it provides an important lesson for all political parties: It doesn’t matter how good or bad the candidates are if people don’t care enough to vote. 

Maybe Negrete should consider running for office?

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