Franck Ribery didn’t win the 2013 FIFA Ballon d’Or, but he is chief among a small group of influential soccer people who think he should have.
Ribery slammed the process which awarded Cristiano Ronaldo the Ballon d’Or award earlier this month. The French soccer star said he deserved the prestigious honor on account of his contributions to Bayern Munich’s all-conquering calendar year, according to the Mail.
“I won everything I could win with Bayern and individually,” Ribery reportedly told AZ. “Ronaldo, on the other hand, did not win anything. I am not sad that I missed out, but it does hurt a bit. I deserved to win the Ballon d’Or.
The Ballon d’Or winner, which recognizes the outstanding individual performer in a given calendar year, is determined by the ballot. Selected journalists and national-team coaches and captains submit votes to world soccer’s governing FIFA. The voting normally closes on Nov. 15 but, last year, FIFA extended the deadline by two weeks, citing low voter turnout.
Ribery, who finished third in the voting behind Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, thinks the voting extension corrupted the process and ultimately gave Ronaldo a decisive advantage because his hat-trick for Portugal against Sweden (which booked Portugal a place in the 2014 FIFA World Cup) on Nov. 19 swayed last-minute voters.
“It was clear that Ronaldo would win it,” Ribery said. “The voting deadline was extended by two weeks. This had never happened before. It wasn’t about football. It was a political decision.”
The crux of Ribery’s argument seems to lie in the debate between individual and collective achievements. As German soccer’s player of the year, Ribery lead Bayern Munich to unprecedented success in 2013. Bayern won five trophies, including the UEFA Champions League, but only three players who appeared in that classic, Bayern-Dortmund final earned spots on FIFA/FIFPro’s World XI (considered FIFA’s team of the year). While former Bayern manager Juup Heynckes rightfully won the coach of the year FIFA World Coach of the Year (for Men’s Football) prize, Ribery was astonished that FIFA/FIFPro’s dream team didn’t include more German-based talent.
“There are only three Bayern players in there,” Ribery said. That’s madness. [Thomas] Muller deserves to be there, and so do [David] Alaba, [Bastian] Schweinsteiger and [Arjen] Robben.
“We won five titles and made history. And then there’s the absence of Borussia Dortmund players. Where are [Mario] Gotze and [Robert] Lewandowski? This is impossible.”
Ribery joins UEFA president Michele Platini in the chorus of those voices calling for greater emphasis on team success when it comes to Ballon d’Or voting. Messi helped Barcelona win La Liga (Spain’s first division) in 2012-13. Ronaldo scored 69 goals in 59 games for club and country, but neither Real Madrid nor Portugal won any major competitions. Ribery shone brightest in a team of stars at club level and was instrumental in helping France qualify for the 2014 World Cup. Surely, that must count for something?
Photo via Facebook/FIFA Ballon D’Or