The Flaws Heading Into This Year’s Ballon D’or


The Ballon D’or.

A prize which has been claimed by the same faces over the past few years; some claims have been sensible and others have been heavily questioned. But the ultimate problem lies in the meaning of the award– not what the media inflates prior, during and after the award distributions. The Ballon D’or is an ‘association football’ award which is given solely to male players, but in 2010 (when Lionel Messi won it) it had been combined with FIFA’s World Player Of The Year award.

And this idea is where the problem lies, in the title ‘player of the year’–its for some reason hard to look past individual highlights versus an individuals unity with his club or country. Now if we are to base glory on numbers and statistics, perhaps there is no problem with the award. But why can’t we look past these things and look at individuality, creativity, team trophies won and moments of leadership or individual performances which helped spike the success of a club or national squad?

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Apparently that is not the case, because the award has seemed to be shuffling between the same two players for the last 4 years years and at the same time yet everyone forgets the 3rd nominee in the process. This is not to say that Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo (Messi especially) shouldn’t be fighting for the title of best in the world, but that is not what the crux of the award is about, is it? That idea is much larger than this award– so why can’t we focus on influential players who have rejuvenated themselves and their club?

For example, it is certain that every Liverpool fan on the planet this year will tell you they believe that Luis Suarez deserves a solid shot at winning this award for his individual efforts in lifting a sluggish Liverpool to height the club has only dreamt of in previous season. It’s unfortunate for Suarez, as his own antics during the World Cup completely ruled his chances of success out. But even Non- Liverpool fans would agree that his presence was a true highlight of the 2013-2014 season in England.

Jun 7, 2014; Landover, MD, USA; Spain midfielder Andres Iniesta (6) dribbles the ball as El Salvador midfielder Kevin Santamaria (8) and El Salvador forward Andres Flores (14) chase in the first half at FedEx Field. Spain won 2-0. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Although I could stir tensions, I truly don’t believe that fans should get carried away with Ronaldo’s dynamite scoring in the last few months as his form is indoubtly great, but we are reviewing an entire year, not the start of a new season. Although it is not argued that his end to 2014 looks to be coming with a bang. For me in review of 2013/2014 season, Ronaldo and Messi are somewhat equal in performances and here are some of the key factors. For Messi it is simple, he won Player of The Tournament at the World Cup for a reason, whether fans agree or not, the suit wearing big shots at FIFA did and their opinion is what will carry over to the Ballon D’or.

He may not have been the deciding factor, but he helped aid Argentinas trajectory to the final– he had some heroic moments but not to the level we expected. He also had a very odd season with Barcelona, but if he had an ‘odd season’ and scored 28 goals in 31 La Liga appearances (via I wouldn’t worry to heavily. What should also be noted, but almost always goes omitted, is Messi’s charity with the ball. He has provided 11 assists for his teammates versus Ronaldo’s 9.

Yes, Ronaldo did score more goals — but again, why is this always  emphasized?. What about play making? What about the enormous presence Angel Di Maris had for his country? An assist from Messi provided their entrance into the quarter finals against the Swiss in July. Or perhaps Manuel Neuer, widely regarded as the best goalkeeper in football, now a World Cup winner, who I believe Is worthy enough to become only the second goal keeper to attain the award.

Jun 22, 2014; Manaus, Amazonas, BRAZIL; Portugal forward Cristiano Ronaldo (7) during their 2014 World Cup game against the United States at Arena Amazonia. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Now In Ronaldo’s case, it’s truly about individual numbers –which in the case of ‘player of the year’ perhaps he has a fair chance at winning. But Ronaldo had suffered at the hands on injury last year putting his performances in an unlikely state. And in many cases where it counted, he was unable to make the difference. It is no surprise that Portugal had an awful run; but his attitude towards his team was uncalled for. He is a victim of his own fame at times, taking too much responsibility and not allowing the pool of talent at hand aid him in captaining the Portuguese. By calling your teammates ‘average’ it proves his disappointment to be based off burden. He was also not the deciding factor in Real Madrid’s Champions League final or league title race. I should give credit to his Champions League goal scoring record, but again this isn’t about numbers.

So ultimately, Messi and Ronaldo, outside of numbers and statistics are at par for me. This leaves us with our 3rd nominee, the player who we often forget about, and has pushed his limit so much farther than previous seasons that he is recognized for a split second and gone one the award is handed off between the two heavyweights I the football world.

In the past few years these are the men we somehow forget…

Aug 4, 2014; Portland, OR, USA; Bayern Munich player Franck Ribery during a press conference in advance of the 2014 MLS All Star Game at The Nines Hotel. Mandatory Credit: Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

Frank Ribery in 2013 for being a Bundesliga league winner, champions league winner and domestic cup winner. He had the most accolades that calendar year.

Andres Iniesta in 2010 in second and 2012 in third. Both of these years he won a international trophy (World Cup and European Championship). He has also won La Liga, Champions league and domestic cups.

Xavi Hernandez in 2012 , the same year he won the European Championship. He is also a La Liga winner, World Cup winner, Champions League winner and domestic cup winner.

On this note, I find this award very interesting.