LONDON (AFP) – Frank Lampard admitted he was stunned to see Marcelo Bielsa and Leeds win the FIFA Fair Play Award despite the ‘Spygate’ scandal that rocked the Championship club.
Leeds boss Bielsa and his club were recognised at the world governing body’s annual award ceremony in Milan for allowing Aston Villa to score an uncontested goal during a second tier match last season.
However, Leeds were also fined GBP200,000 and given a severe reprimand by the English Football League last term after Bielsa sent a member of his staff to spy on a Derby training session.
Chelsea boss Lampard, who was Derby manager at the time of Leeds’ undercover operation in January, branded the Fair Play decision “strange”.
Asked on Friday if he choked on his breakfast cereal when he heard the news, Lampard replied: “I did smile. Do we know who votes for these things?
“What happened with Spygate was very well documented, and then they got fined, the rules changed slightly because of it. I felt it was improper.
“To get a fair play award off the back of that is. I thought it was irony at first.
“It was a strange decision for them to win that. I think everyone had the same reaction (to the fair play award), to be fair, because a lot of news was put to Spygate.
“And I think quite rightly so and it got dealt with in the right way, so when you go and give an award for fair play in the same year then I don’t think it’s right.”
In April, Leeds allowed Villa to walk the ball into their net at Elland Road.
Angry scenes had broken out minutes earlier after Leeds looked set to stop play because of an injury to Jonathan Kodjia before playing on and scoring through Mateusz Klich.
But Lampard didn’t think that was enough to justify the FIFA prize.
“It was quite right that they give Villa the opportunity to score, quite right to level out the balance of what had happened,” he added.