Franck Ribery believes he “deserves” Ballon d’Or

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With Lionel Messi seemingly out of the running thanks to a string of injuries this year, we may have a different Ballon d’Or winner for the first time in four years.

It’s often less than difficult to predict the winner, and this year the favorite seems to be one of either Franck Ribery or Cristiano Ronaldo.

While Ronaldo no doubt has the numbers advantage, Ribery’s performances for Bayern Munich in their unprecedented treble last season are certainly giving the Portugese superstar a run for his money.

A fiery player on the field, Ribery has played this year’s selection for the sport’s most prestigious award with both touches of class and of confidence.

“I do not know if I will win, however I think I deserve it,” says Ribery.  “Before I was a good player, now I think I’m the best.”

The Frenchman says while he may not always be his own biggest supporter, his friends and family certainly are.

“I try not to think about the Ballon d’Or,” the 30-year-old told L’Equipe. “But my wife has already prepared the space above the fireplace in the living room. I do get a lot of belief from her and all of Bayern.”

Ronaldo this season has 16 La Liga goals in just 13 matches, and eight goals in four Champions League games for Real Madrid.  He finished the second half of last season (starting on January 1) with 20 goals in 17 league matches, and six in the Champions League.

Ribery, however, has electrified the left wing of the Bundesliga powerhouse, and was awarded the UEFA Best Player of the Year award at the end of August.  Last season, Andres Iniesta won that award, but fell to Messi for the much more prestigious Ballon d’Or.

The award will be announced on January 13, 2014.

Ancelotti rules himself out of Liverpool job

Carlo Ancelotti, Real Madrid CF
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Carlo Ancelotti will not be the next manager of Liverpool, if you’re not so cynical that you don’t believe Mr. Ancelotti himself, that is.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Ancelotti, who this summer was fired one season after winning the UEFA Champions League at Real Madrid, has been widely reported a top-two candidate for the Premier League club’s vacant managerial position ever since Brendan Rodgers was fired on Sunday.

While he may very well have been one of Liverpool’s top choices, to hear Ancelotti tell it, he’s not interested in taking the job, nor any other job anywhere in the world this year.

[ MORE: “Super computer” predicts final Premier League standings ]

Ancelotti, speaking at the National History Museum in London on Tuesday — quotes from the Guardian:

“I enjoy my time now but, of course, I want to come back to manage – to work – because it is my passion. I want to take my time to rest, but next season I am ready.”

“Why not [return to Paris Saint-Germain]? I have very good memories of Paris, PSG, I have good relations with everyone, with Nasser [al-Khelaifi, the PSG president].

“But I’m thinking about other things and PSG has a very good coach in Laurent Blanc. I hope he will continue and shine in the Champions League.”

Of course, with Jurgen Klopp reportedly all but officially announced as Liverpool’s new manager, Ancelotti is probably doing two things by ruling himself out until next season: 1) saving a bit of face, given that he was pretty clearly not Liverpool’s first-choice candidate; 2) letting every Ancelotti-sized club know that he’ll be available come this spring and summer, just in case they’re considering firing their current manager and need a bit of assurance an elite candidate will be available.

[ MORE: Klopp expected to be named new Liverpool manager this week ]

For instance, the likes of Chelsea, Manchester City, PSG and Juventus immediately come to mind. A manager of Ancelotti’s quality will always have options and offers, and that’s something he clearly understands. Ancelotti has earned the right to enjoy a year-long sabbatical and to be picky when choosing his next job.

Report: FIFA provisionally suspends Sepp Blatter

Sepp Blatter, FIFA president

Sepp Blatter could, finally, be frozen out by FIFA.

The 17-year leader of world soccer’s governing body has reportedly been suspended for 90 days after FIFA’s ethics committee met on Wednesday to discuss allegations against both Blatter and his close ally Michel Platini.

[ MORE: Chung to sue Blatter ]

Reports suggest that the decision to suspend the Swiss official still needs to be formally ratified by the adjudicatory chamber of the ethics committee, but it is highly likely that Blatter will be suspended until January 2016.

Blatter, 79, has been at FIFA for over 40 years but under his stewardship the organization has been riddled with allegations of corruption as current investigations from both the U.S. and Swiss authorities continue. The longtime FIFA official is suspected of “criminal mismanagement or misappropriation” by the Swiss authorities after a payment of over $1.9 million is linked to Blatter and the current president of UEFA, and FIFA presidential candidate, Platini.

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Klaus Stoehlker, who formerly advised Blatter, has told Sky News that the ethics committee “made the ruling pending further investigations by the Swiss attorney general” and the verdict was “pending”  but that “no negative finding had been made against the head of world football’s governing body.” It is believed that the 90-day suspension is the maximum amount of time the ethics committee can suspend any individuals while an investigation is ongoing.

It has been reported that the head of FIFA’s ethics committee, Judge Hans Joachim-Eckert, has told Blatter of his suspension.

The leader of FIFA, who will stand down following the next presidential elections on Feb. 26, 2016, has been defiant in recent weeks despite growing pressure from corporate sponsors of FIFA for him to resign.

On Wednesday he spoke out and denied he will quit, while at the Leaders’ in Sport Summit in London another presidential candidate ,Chung Mong-joon, declared that he will sue Blatter for “at least $100 million” and believes the FIFA president and his “cronies” are deliberately sabotaging his own presidential campaign.