Idris Elba hosted The Best FIFA Football Awards 2018, but should he stick to acting from now on?

Idris Elba

Last night’s Best FIFA Football Award was sort of weird. And not in a good way. The most surprising omission from the FIFA FIFPro World XI was Mohamed Salah, despite being named among the shortlisted players for The Best Men’s Player of the Year award, and won the Puskas Award for best goal of the season. I’m a Liverpool fan, so let me vent. Returning as a host for the awards was Idris Elba, with intermittent help from English actor Patrick Stewart who pulled his own weight.

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But Elba’s hosting skills was the most-talked-about thing, considerably failing to impress viewers as seen in the flux of tweets pointing out his flat jokes, stuttering on names he should know how to pronounce, and the sheen of forehead sweat that could mean he was struggling with presiding over events. All these eclipsed his charisma and celebrity, which, to be frank, was also on display.

Along the line, I wondered if the autocue he was reading from was broken. To be fair to Elba, the writers of the script also had a responsibility to make the ceremony memorable, even quotable. Elba’s job was to make those words come alive, even if he had to improvise. But his handling of affairs is proving that acting and hosting are intrinsically different. Elba has a deep acting CV, both in film and television. Not to mention the longstanding rumours of him playing James Bond since forever, which resurfaced recently and died almost abruptly.

As you know, James Bond is a womaniser. And he ostensibly stepped into this aspect of the British spy when Brazilian defender Dani Alves possessively held his wife’s hand when Elba sat next to them. Elba was announced to host the award a week ago, and yesterday night, he faced a largely muted and unreceptive crowd – the cosmopolitan footballing glitterati in attendance at the Royal Festival Hall in London. It could be that these footballers don’t speak or understand English (World Cup revelation Kylian Mbappé and French coach Didier Deschamps blissfully spoke their French like…Merci Beaucoup, Merci Beaucoup).

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During the show, Elba wore a Gareth Southgate waistcoat, a sartorial piece that was popularised during the World Cup in Russia and thanks to England’s coach Gareth Southgate, who wore navy blue waistcoats to all England’s games. Elba’s banter with Southgate on stage as he came to present an award didn’t elicit crowd participation, and it was painful to watch one of the most sexualised man in Hollywood have a nightmare of a show. Paraphrasing a tweet I came across: “Idris Elba hosting this award should be the reason he should never play James Bond. Absolute cringe.” That said, I guess Elba has a lot to do in restoring public confidence.

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