How important is the Ballon d’Or, really? Cristiano Ronaldo cares so much about it only because he always gets to stand on the podium while Lionel Messi gets to hold the trophy and smile to the cameras. However, no player is remembered to his greatness is measured by how many times he picked up these awards.
So who do you measure greatness and compare between players from different eras? Well, basically, you can’t. What Pele did with Brazil and Santos has nothing to do with how good Diego Maradona was with Argentina and Napoli about 20 years later. Titles with clubs and country is a way to measure greatness, but it also has to do with circumstances a player is in.
Lionel Messi has picked up the last four Ballon d’Or titles, which has led to some aggressive campaigning from Cristiano Ronaldo and the people around him in the past. Once Jose Mourinho said Ronaldo should win it because he scored more goals. The year later he should have won it because he won the championship with Real Madrid and Lionel Messi didn’t. Even when you try to look it at objectively, any conclusion you’ll come to will infuriate one of the camps, and you’ll be deemed a hater to either Messi or Ronaldo.
The difference this year is that it seemed like both players were going to come away empty handed from the awards ceremony. Bayern Munich itself, as a club, can’t receive the award, but someone from it was going to. Franck Ribery was chosen as the “ambassador” and until Sepp Blatter made his foolish comment on Ronaldo, Ribery was almost the guaranteed favorite to win, also picking up the European player of the year award.
However, this opened up a wonderful opportunity for Ronaldo. He played the offended, wronged soul in the whole story, letting out that he might boycott the FIFA Gala and award ceremony. The same thing happened in the LFP awards in Spain, when it became clear that all the awards were going to other players. A special MVP award was invented for the Portuguese star just so he wouldn’t feel left out.
FIFA won’t invent an award, but mysteriously the voting dates changed, opened for a while longer, allowing the effect of Ronaldo’s campaigning to sink in. Ribery had a special photo shoot with FIFA planned but that was cancelled in favor of Ronaldo. Conspiracy?
FIFA promotes its own agenda, and doesn’t really care about Messi, Ronaldo or Ribery. The smart PR move for Blatter was making it seem like he has nothing against the Portuguese star, contrary to what he said earlier. The result? A player who might not deserve the award but campaigned harder for it than anyone else because of his ego caring so much about things that don’t matter will finish first in the voting.