Another Ballon d’Or ceremony concluded, and with it concluded the much hyped and discussed set of awards. Just like every year, this one has its fair share of controversies and disagreements, from both fans and experts.
For the past 8 years, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have been the focal point of these events as they have not only dominated football on the pitch, but off it as well.
This year was no different, though Messi came out a clear winner this time, with even the egoistic Cristiano Ronaldo accepting that the Argentine deserved the Ballon d’Or more.
But like every year, the awards this year too was marked by heated arguments by fans around the globe, with some agreeing and disagreeing with the results, especially regarding FIFA’s Team of the Year.
This is not the first time this is happening. In fact the controversies surrounding these awards have been pretty common for quite a few years now. A similar situation arose when Messi was awarded the Golden Ball at the 2014 World Cup.
Why are these disagreements coming up? Is the system faulty? Let us examine some of the key reasons.
- Everyone has their favourites
The first and most common reason for disagreement is the human nature of being biased towards their favourite players. Selecting 1 player for each position from all the best players in the world was always going to be a daunting task. It’s no surprise that a conflict will arise, with people gunning for players they like or from the team they support.
- Lack of Information
Most football fans tend to follow not more than two teams or leagues. This leads to the fact that most of the fans are unaware of the actual performances of all the players. Hence, they rely only on stats to make a judgement and that could be really deceiving.
While many argue that Kevin De Bruyne should have been in the Team of the Year in place of Luka Modric, most of them are saying so because they don’t follow all the leagues. Although De Bruyne was fantastic, Ivan Rakitic has an equal claim.
There have been arguments about Marcelo being selected ahead of David Alaba. there has been no voices for Wolfsburg’s left back Ricardo Rodriguez, who has been equally brilliant, because he doesn’t belong to one of the big teams.
- Basis of the Awards
Lastly we come to the biggest reason of them all. The basis of the awards. If you are wondering “What basis?”, then you are spot on!
The major reason for this debate every time is, unlike the Golden Shoe and Golden Glove awards — there is no basis on which the people vote.
Some argue that individual performances don’t matter if the team doesn’t win, hence concluding that the trophies won should be the criteria of judgement of how good that player has been that year.
Others say that since this is an individual award and not a team trophy, individual performances should matter the most. This is similar to the phenomena faced by movie critics while deciding individual awards, whether to be biased towards the actor who acted in the better movie or to only judge the individual performance.
The evidence we have from past winners is that FIFA and the people voting themselves haven’t figured out the basis yet. Messi won the Ballon d’Or in the 2012 season for scoring an astonishing 91 goals in the calendar year, it was also a year in which Barcelona failed to win either the Champions League or the La Liga.
On the other hand, in the previous year, Ronaldo was runner-up despite having better stats because Barcelona had a more successful campaign.
The case is also true when it comes to the FIFA Pro XI. This year, many argued that David de Gea should have been the keeper of the year in place of Manuel Neuer. The people stating that are justified with the fact that De Gea had a much bigger impact on matches as a United player than Neuer had with Bayern Munich.
But the counter argument is not bad either. It was not Neuer’s fault that he was not tested enough. And to be fair to him, he did step up whenever he was required. Very few people will argue that on the basis of pure abilities, Neuer is better than the younger De Gea at the moment.
So the dilemma arises. Whether to vote for the better keeper or the one who produced most saves and was decisive? Well, unfortunately there is again no mention of this, and hence the controversy.
This is not only true for this case but for many. Sergio Ramos individually has been fantastic, but last year was not a good year for the Real Madrid defence as they shipped way too many goals.
Luka Modric though, being one of the best midfielders in the world, had an injury laden season, and was voted into the team purely on the basis of his ability and reputation and not the actual performances.
The Ballon d’Or awards are held every year and are good entertainment as we all love awards and the glamour associated to it. But it will only be logical if football fraternity decides to just accept the result until FIFA lays the basic rules of judgement.
Though both the possibilities are pretty unlikely, we can just try to do our parts.
Pursuing Computer Science Engineering from Bangalore Institute of Technology. Avid sports fan, specially football. A lifelong United supporter.