The best footballer in the world during 2013 was Luis Suarez. That isn’t going to help him win the Ballon d’Or, as FIFA and Sepp Blatter won’t allow it. Cristiano Ronaldo doesn’t deserve to be named as the best for a second straight season, but that’s exactly what’s going to happen.
Last year was a perfect example of how rotten and corrupt the voting process, if there even is any, is when it comes to handing out the most prestigious individual award in football. Cristiano Ronaldo being insulted by Sepp Blatter resulted in a complete 180 turn by FIFA. From giving it to Franck Ribery (as something of a team award to Bayern Munich), the award landed in the hands of Ronaldo, giving everyone his less than touching tear performance on the Gala night.
This season? In World Cup years, it’s often about someone from the winning nation that gets the honor. However, in the era of Lionel Messi and Ronaldo, it’s never safe. Ronaldo has the numbers, and also the embarrassing celebration in the Champions League final after scoring a meaningless fourth goal in a match he was quite awful in. He played badly in the World Cup as Portugal were knocked out in the group stage. Best players in the world don’t usually make it so easy for teams to beat them.
Lionel Messi won the award for World Cup MVP as Argentina lost in the final to Germany. He didn’t play too well, especially in the final two matches. But he did score crucial goals, and did provide to be a big part of a run, almost going all the way. Germany didn’t show one clear star, just like the 2013 Bayern Muncih, but Manuel Neuer seems to be the player everyone agrees upon as the standout performer.
Despite not playing in the Champions League, Luis Suarez was the best footballer in the world last season. Sometimes the value of a player is best observed when he’s not playing. His presence, goal scoring and leadership almost brought a mediocre Liverpool team to a championship. If it wasn’t for Steven Gerrard slipping and Demba Ba scoring, it would have been a very different ending in the Premier League, and a 24-year drought would have ended.
Suarez was great in the World Cup as well. He didn’t play against Costa Rica as Uruguay lost, but was the man for Uruguay in the 2-1 win over England. He also bit Georgio Chiellini, and started a chain reaction that made Uruguay look terrible without him against Colombia, not to mention suspending him until this weekend, when he lined up for Barcelona against Real Madrid in El Clasico, serving up an assist to Neymar despite being out for such a long time.
Suarez won’t win the award because FIFA won’t allow it to happen. They handed him a disproportionate punishment despite having worse offenders in football almost every weekend, trying to chop opponents down with dangerous challenges. It might not look good on camera, but biting is harmless. And yet it’ll be costly, because of what it cost Uruguay and maybe Barcelona early during this season, and what it’ll mean to the decision made when it comes to the Ballon d’Or.