Cristiano Ronaldo’s capture of the FIFA Ballon D’Or completed a remarkable return to the top five years after he last won the award.
The Portuguese wing wonder beat Lionel Messi by 1,365 votes to 1,205.
Football history will look back on this as the Spanish golden age, but the brightest stars in this Iberian heaven have been an Argentinian and a Portuguese.
These two superstars have monopolised awards for the past few seasons, which made Franck Ribéry’s third place finish with 1,127 votes all the more impressive.
Ribéry’s role in helping Situs Domino99 Bayern Munich to a clean sweep of domestic and international trophies in 2013 was perhaps the greatest all-round contribution by a footballer last year.
He took defeat badly, citing his faultless trophy haul versus Ronaldo’s empty cabinet as proof of an injustice, a cry echoed by UEFA President and fellow countryman Michel Platini, who decried the increasing American style reliance on statistics instead of success for measuring the game.
As proud Frenchmen, the pair felt some ownership, because the Ballon D’Or was once run solely by France Football magazine. Since merging with FIFA’s World Player of the Year four years ago, it has got more personality dominated.
The key difference is that the new award counts votes from national team coaches and captains. Had journalists alone decided the vote as before, Ribéry would have been crowned the world player of the year – perhaps proof that those outside the game view things on the field with cooler heads and more critical eyes.
Unlike FIFA’s World Cup hosting selections, whose inner workings are shrouded in secrecy, the Ballon D’Or, because of its origins in journalism as opposed to management, is fully open to inspection. This provides some curious insights into the global soccer family.
Not everyone is entranced by the Barcelona-Real Madrid hegemony. Bahrain coach Anthony Hudson for instance was one of many who ignored the top three: He chose Ribéry’s teammate Bastian Schweinsteiger as the world player of the season, Andrea Pirlo as next best and …Read More