Bayern Munich winger Franck Ribery has slammed the Ballon d’Or as an award decided by “politics.”
In an interview with Sport Bild, Ribery expressed his
discontent anger at the annual ceremony where last year he was beat out by Real Madrid winger Cristiano Ronaldo.
“I learned a lot during last year’s Ballon d’Or gala,” Ribery said. “As soon as I got there, I told my wife that I would lose. I saw how Sepp Blatter was hugging Ronaldo and how his entire family was there. I’m not stupid. It was clear that he had to win it. He wouldn’t have brought his entire family with him otherwise.”
Hard not to read those words and feel Ribery’s fury over the situation. Having had an unbelievable 2013 season, the French winger found himself one of the finalists for the award with a select few believing he may even take it home. But it wasn’t to be as Ronaldo’s record-breaking season was enough to see him break Lionel Messi’s three-year streak of winning the award. Aside from Ribery, few posed the argument that Ronaldo didn’t deserve the recognition, leaving Ribery’s comments to sound like sour grapes.
The experience seems to have had a lasting effect on the 31-year-old. “It will be the same this year. What can I say about it? Manuel Neuer or Arjen Robben should win it. You can’t disagree with this. Manu has won it all, he is a great guy and he isn’t arrogant. Arjen has played an incredible season in the Bundesliga and then a fantastic World Cup.”
While Neuer and Robben are strong candidates, one certainly can disagree as to who should win this year as Ronaldo has once again produced a stunning season that includes a historic Champions League title. “I fear it will be about politics again,” Ribery said. “The Ballon d’Or is no longer for the best player. It’s all about politics. Fabio Cannavaro won it in 2006 because he won the World Cup, that’s all.”
The question then becomes what politics will prevail? Ronaldo won La Decima so do politics require him to win? Or does Lionel Messi’s goal-scoring records in La Liga and Champions League require him to be crowned king? And what about Neuer? He won the Bundesliga and the World Cup not to mention only one goalkeeper has previously won the Ballon d’Or. Shouldn’t politics require him to win?
And yet, despite the crankiness Ribery insists he’s at peace in not winning last year’s best player award. “I don’t miss the Ballon d’Or. I am not jealous because this award doesn’t mean anything to me any more. I am happy with what I have in Munich. When 70,000 fans are screaming my name at the Allianz Arena, I get goosebumps. I can go home happy after that.”