Football

Why the Ballon d’Or needs a drastic overhaul

Why was Marco Reus overlooked?  (©GettyImages)
Why was Marco Reus overlooked? (©GettyImages).

The list of nominees for the Ballon d’Or and coach of the year awards have shown the
alarmingly obvious flaws in the criteria in the nomination process.

Whilst the large portion of names across both lists leaves little for shock, there are the glaring omissions and fortunate selections that serve as a strong indication that reputations and marketing play as much of a role as on-field performances.

Starting with the reigning European champions, Bayern Munich, even with seven players nominated, it’s the omission Mario Mandžukić  which rings the alarm bells.

Signed for €13 million, at the current going-rate of top strikers it has to be said that Bayern Munich found themselves a bargain as Mandžukić scored 22 goals in all competitons as Bayern won an impressive treble – and the 2012 DFB Super Cup in a historic season. David Alaba was also omitted. Pathetic.

Borussia Dortmund seem to have won themselves no friends on the voting panel as the performances of Marco Reus, İlkay Gündoğan, Mats Hummels and Neven Subotic all have gone unnoticed despite Borussia Dortmund making a Champions League final, outplaying Real Madrid three times in the process.

Reus and Gündoğan have both been snubbed for Mesut Özil, a player they both ran circles around in the above-mentioned Champions League games.

Andrea Pirlo cuts a lonely figure as the solitary nominee from Serie A. The selection of Eden Hazard rubs further salt into the wounds. 

Hazard was played off the park when Juventus thrashed Chelsea in Turin, as he was in the second half of the Chelsea-Juventus game at Stamford Bridge.

Hazard was a mere on-field spectator in Chelsea’s away trip to Shakhtar Donetsk
too!  

Arturo Vidal and Paul Pogba should have been nominated in place of Hazard, especially as Vidal was one of many destroyers-in-chief when Juventus effectively knocked Chelsea out of the Champions League in November of last year.

Yaya Toure is another questionable selection. How can a man who didn’t even play any European football post-Christmas be a nominee? At the African Cup of Nations, Toure and the rest his national colleagues fluffed their lines in a competition they were favourites to win – AGAIN!

Luis Suarez’s controversies will serve to make him a questionable selection, one may argue if
a man associated with diving, biting and racism is a man that football wants to present to the rest of the sporting world as one of its best players, as one of its poster boys.

Especially when one considers the fact that Mario Balotelli was not picked despite dragging a mid-table Milan team to a Champions League berth almost single-handedly since joining the club in January!

Mesut Ozil like many before him gained a lot of publicity by being transfered (which is key to be nominated it seems) with a big-money move to Arsenal. Ozil who lost his place in the Real Madrid team, to Isco was nominated ahead of the young Spanish starlet who carried Malaga and their veteran players to the Champions League quarter-finals and was a stand-out player in Spain’s U/21 European Championship winning side.

It’s not hard to see the magnitude of the Premier League marketing machine at work when the likes of Ozil, Hazard, Toure and Suarez get selected above more-deserving candidates, like T20 players being considered better than their counterparts excelling in the Test Arena.

This merely adds to the resentment that many staunch advocates of Spanish, Italian, French and German football have that the English top division is overhyped and overrated.

Xavi Hernandez was overrun in two El Clasicos, a Confederations Cup semi-final and final as well as in Barcelona’s painful 7-0 aggregate loss to Bayern Munich. Perhaps one player picked on past performances and reputation.

In the managerial award, Arsene Wenger was picked for non explainable reasons, as was Jose Mourinho, ahead of Diego Simeone – than man who beat Mourinho in the Copa Del Rey final.

Mourinho claimed in the immediate press conference after the final that 2012/13 had been his worst ever season as a manager. Not in the eyes of FIFA.

If Wenger gets an invite for purely finishing fourth in England, than surely Vincenzo Montella, Sami Hyypiä and Philippe Montanier deserve equal praise for achieving similar achievements on smaller budgets at Fiorentina, Bayer Leverkusen and Real Sociedad respectively.

Montella and Montanier especially under the circumstances their league positions were achieved under.  

FIFA’s Nomination process is in danger of hampering the creditability of their wons awards, which clearly needs to be changed in the future.


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