Former Bayern Munich winger Franck Ribery has recalled his infamous defeat at the Ballon d’Or 2013 ceremony at the hands of then-Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo.
The veteran forward helped Bayern Munich win the Bundesliga, German Cup, Champions League, UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup in 2013, contributing 22 goals and 18 assists in all competitions. However, Ronaldo’s 66 goals in 56 appearances for Madrid helped him eclipse the Frenchman even after not winning a single trophy.
On an individual level, Ribery won the UEFA Men’s Player of the Year award for the 2012/13 season over Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo but finished third on the Ballon d’Or podium with 23.36 percent votes, compared to Ronaldo’s 27.99 percent and Messi’s 24.72 percent.
The Bayern Munich legend, in an interview with L’Equipe, claimed that finishing third in the Ballon d’Or rankings that year was an “injustice”.
“More than a disappointment, it’s the biggest injustice of my career. Not only for me, for many people. I finished 3rd. I had nothing to envy Messi or Ronaldo that year. I say it on all humility because it is the truth”, Ribery said.
Over the years, many players and fans have questioned the reliability of the coveted individual award. In 2013, Ribery stated that the award is only based on “politics”.
“I won everything, with the team and individually. Ronaldo won nothing. I feel I had earned this award. It’s all politics”, the 36-year old claimed.
Fabio Cannavaro won the Ballon d’Or in 2006 because of his stellar performances with Italy in the World Cup despite his substandard form for Juventus. Brazilian Ronaldo also laid his hands on the Golden Ball in 2002 for his exploits at the Korea-Japan World Cup. The legendary striker, however, was out of action for most of the preceding season catering to his recurring injury problems.
The criteria for winning the Ballon d’Or award is still undecided as to whether it is based on achievements or individual excellence. The fact that Franck Ribery was a central character in Bayern Munich’s historic quintuple in 2013 and still could not lift the accolade is a debate which will occur for years to come.