Who should win the Ballon d’or?

Welcome to 2015! I hope everybody had a merry Christmas and a happy new year. But now it is back to normal – as I found out on Monday when I had my first unwanted phone call (some guy trying to sell double glazing) and I switched on Sky News and saw Ed Miliband speaking and thought “Oh god four months of this to go before the UK’s General Election”. However, back to normal means award ceremonies – and as the first one of the year is the FIFA Ballon D’or awards on Monday I thought I would write on who should win – and how we the people can embarrass Sepp Blatter.
The main award is the Ballon D’or (“Golden Ball”) which is awarded to the FIFA male player of the year (not the female one. Women aren’t worthy of winning the Ballon D’or apparently.) The three contenders – who would all be worthy winners – are Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Manuel Neuer. But who should win?
It is important to remember that we are not considering them on their careers, but just their from in 2014. In that case Messi must be the outsider (which shows how strong the field is).Although he scored 58 goals in 2014 Barcelona did not win a major trophy last year and Argentina did not win the World Cup. For some reason which must remain a mystery he was voted the tournament’s best player but even Messi did not agree with that. A great player perhaps football’s GOAT (Greatest of all time) but not the best in 2014.
The other two are harder to separate. Ronaldo won the Champions League and Copa del Rey* with Real Madrid and scored 61 goals in 2014. Neuer won the World Cup with Germany and the Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal* with Bayern Munich. They met three times in 2014 with Ronaldo’s Real beating Neuer’s Bayern 1-0 and 4-0 in the Champions League Semi-Final (Ronaldo scored two goals) but Neuer’s Germany beat Ronaldo’s Portugal 4-0 during the World Cup. But who should win?
To my mind it has to be Ronaldo as the Champions League is a meritocracy but the World Cup is not. Every player can win the Champions League provided he is good enough to attract the attention of a team that can win it. The World Cup is an accident of birth. If you are born in San Marino you can win the Champions League if you are good enough. You have no chance of winning the World Cup. To my mind that is not fair. That dinosaur Michel Plattini thinks a German World Cup winner should get the award but it is not Ronaldo’s fault that Portugal weren’t good enough to win the World Cup. In fact if it wasn’t for Ronaldo they wouldn’t have qualified for the tournament in the first place. The fact that Portugal weren’t good enough to win should not be held against him. For the sake of fairness Ronaldo should win.
Talking of Neuer, the Sky Sports website is making a fool of itself by saying he would be the first goalkeeper to win the award since Lev Yashin in 1963. Actually a goalkeeper won the award only last year – but that was Nadine Angerer, a woman and obviously she doesn’t count (would it kill Sky to insert the word “male”?)
That brings me on to the women’s award. Three nominations here too – Marta, Nadine Kessler, and Abby Wambach. In one sense this award is harder to consider – no World Cup or European Championship for the women last year – plus a lack of TV coverage makes the contenders harder to assess. But the fact that one player should not have been nominated makes it easier. Wambach is a great player. But she was not great in 2014. In fact the US website Soccerwire.com says she should be dropped from the US team. Hardly the form of a player of the year. Quite why Kim Little the American League MVP was not nominated is a mystery.
Which leaves us with Kessler and Marta. Like the male award the key is the Champions League where Kessler’s Wolfsburg beat Marta’s Tyreso in the Final. Add to this a Bundesliga win and the fact that UEFA have already voted Kessler the beat player in Europe and it is clear that this award should be more clear cut than the male one. And unlike the male one it should be a German victory.
But Kessler should not be the only female player to win an award. Another award is the Puskas award which is for the best goal of 2013-14. The three nominations are Robin van Persie, James Rodriguez… and Stephanie Roche an Irishwoman. Her goal is magnificent (watch it on You tube if you haven’t seen it) and it deserves to win on merit. Besides as Sepp Blatter hates women the thought of him presenting Roche with this award is too good to resist. Unlike the other awards this one is by public vote so let’s all go to http://www.fifa.com/ballon-dor/puskas-award/ vote for Stephanie Roche and hand the sexist football establishment a humiliating defeat. You know it makes sense…
*the Spanish and German equivalents of the FA Cup.


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