Tag Archives: FIFA

Ballon d’Or (Golden Ball) France Football 2016 – The Case for Lionel Messi

Last week, Cristiano Ronaldo was crowned winner of the Ballon d’Or 2016 (the fourth of his career) ahead of Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann. While I congratulate the Portuguese winger for his success, I do not agree with the decision and I would like either a reform of the trophy or simply put, a repeal of it. And there are several reasons why.

Earlier this year, France Football (a French football magazine whom created the trophy and distributed it for decades) and FIFA parted ways with the gala and the trophy, which meant full control of the criterias by the magazine and the hope that we would have more winners and more diversity. Well, it seems like France Football picked up exactly where FIFA left off and awarded the Ballon d’Or to a player who is very good, with great statistics, four trophies won, but ultimately was not the best player in 2016, in my opinion.

I even doubt that he was he second best, even third best (Antoine Griezmann and Luis Suarez could have been in front of him in 2016). I have ranked Lionel Andrès Messi first because of his complete performance (with club and country) from January 1st to the end date of the voting (November 27th). Goals, assists, chances created, trophies won and runner-up, Messi was, once again, in a league of his own.

While CR7 has been very good as mentioned, created his share of chances and won several important trophies during the year, he was also helped by his teammates while struggling to make an impression on the big stage (UEFA Champions League and European Championship finals) or being absent (UEFA SuperCup). Real Madrid CF won the Champions League final against Atlético Madrid FC on penalties where Ronaldo was invisible the whole game. He eventually dispatched of the winning penalty (only Juanfran from Atlético missed his during the penalty kicks).

Ronaldo didn’t have a great European Championship, missing several scoring chances, missing an important penalty versus Iceland if I recall with his country barely qualifying for the round of 16 in a group where they were largely favourites to win and featuring a mere twenty minutes in the final. His attitude during the whole tournament was unworthy of a “superstar” like him as well. The man of the tournament was French striker Antoine Griezmann.

Lionel Messi won the domestic double (LaLiga BBVA and the Spanish Cup). He was eliminated in the quarterfinals by Atlético de Madrid FC in the UEFA Champions League, but led Argentina to the Copa America Centenario final lost on penalties to Chile for the second year in a row. Messi, having a superb tournament, missed his penalty kick during the shootout session.

In his return to Europe, him and FC Barcelona lifted the Spanish SuperCup versus Sevilla FC, adding a third domestic trophy to his cabinet for the year. His statistics were excellent through the year as you can regularly see in my blog. He outscored, “outassisted” by 16 assists, Cristiano Ronaldo. He created more chances and showed (as usual) more team spirit and more engagement than the Portuguese international.

All this leads me to ask…what is the Ballon d’Or’s purpose? Do we reward the best player of the calendar year? Of the season? Is it a popularity contest? Do we simply attribute the trophy based on winning the FIFA World Cup, Champions League and/or the European Championship despite not being the best player of the tournament or even the team (Nani, Pepe, a Champions League winner as well this year, Ricardo Quaresma, Rui Patricio and others were excellent and clutch during the tournament for La Seleção and let’s not forget Lille player Eder who put the nail in the coffin to clinch the title)?

Last, but not least, it may not be a good idea to hand out a trophy right in the middle of a season. After all, trophies are given at the end generally.

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Kicking Diving Out of Football

Several football governing bodies have currently lot of issues to deal with.

Corruption scandals which have hit FIFA, for example, in the past few months and years have given the main football institution several headaches and might take, for the Swiss -based organization, a long time to recover.

On a positive side, it has accomplished some positives such the “kick racism out of football” campaign. Banners have been displayed before matches and during national anthems to make sure that the message is loud and clear that the biggest governing body in the game does not tolerate it.

Unfortunately, another problem, of a different nature, is putting the game into more shame. And it is called diving or playacting. Football is not the only collective sport who suffers from it, but it is often mentioned as an example when an incident occurs. A few weeks ago, there was another sordid embarrassing example during a Champions League match, out of all competitions, when the Real Madrid and Brazilian defender, Marcelo, did one of the worst playacting that you would ever see. After slightly kicking his opponent, the latter reacted slightly and Marcelo went down as if he was either shot down or badly beaten.

This “incident” reminded us that the phenomenon is still present and not disappearing anytime soon. It was a disgraceful gesture, plain and simple. Marcelo and the VlF Wolfsburg player were cautioned, but it just goes to show how deep the issue currently runs in football, that even during a match such as a Champions League quarterfinals tie, some players are still keen on trying to deceive referees, even if it has the potential of failing, making them look ridiculous in front of a large audience and give them a reputation for being actors.

Marcelo is obviously not the only one who does it. There are many. Many who are great footballers are well. and while there is no need to mention any names, at the end, football associations have “to tackle” the problem with more muscle and more desire than ever. Issuing a yellow card when a referee sees that a player has committed a dive is a very good step. Now, it need to be “kicked out of the game”.

Other possible solutions could be to act retroactively when a player is accused of playacting. Issuing suspensions and fines to the player and also the club. Increasing the penalties if there are repetitions from the same players and clubs.

Playacting/diving is an attack and an insult on the game of football and its integrity. It can also change the outcome of a match and leave a bitter taste to teams, fans and journalists. The Beautiful Game, as Mr. Pelé wonderfully described it, deserves better and its governing bodies have to take on this problem with more hunger and desire than ever before. To see it happen would be fantastic. We shall see.

Stay tuned…