Anticipation built over the past few months as Barcelona and Argentina superstar Lionel Messi neared Gerd Muller's 1972 mark of 85 goals in a calendar year.
When the little man finally broke the record, scoring his 86th goal on Dec. 9, the football community was left in awe of the accomplishment, knowing they had seen something that had never happened before.
Over the past few days, though, that last part has been called into question.
First, the Football Association of Zambia claimed that legend Godfrey Chitalu scored 107 goals in 1972, a number that eclipses Messi's own mark.
Then, Brazilian club Flamengo came forth with a claim that striker Zico scored 89 goals throughout 1979, a number that is higher than Messi's (though the Argentine can still pass it).
Finally, a movement has begun to have Pele recognized as the record holder for his 127 goals in 1959, a number supported by FIFA in its biography of the Brazilian great.
With all of these claims to the record, FIFA, football's world governing body, addressed the situation on Friday: They do not recognize the record, at all.
In an interview with BBC Sport, FIFA spokesman Alex Stone said:
It's not an official Fifa record.
We don't have a database which details every football game played in every country from around the world since day one of their formation.
It's certainly nothing to do with bias—if we can confirm records from our tournaments we like doing that.
It's the sort of data fans and the media like to see.
It's a record where someone in the media obviously collected statistics from somewhere and noticed Messi was about to pass that record.
To sum up, the record that Messi apparently broke was by no means an official record. Hence, neither Messi nor Chitalu nor Zico nor Pele will be officially recognized as the holder.
Further, whatever person or group of persons that compiled the data for the record obviously disregarded many leagues; otherwise, the claims of Chitalu and Zico would have arisen sooner. I mean, who knows how many more claims might come forth over the next few weeks?
With so many football leagues all over the world and seasons of statistics to compile, maybe this statistic is just not meant to be kept.
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