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FIFA Ballon d’Or: Award for the “best player” in the world?


Is Ballon d’Or an award for the best player on the planet? So what really is the criteria to compare a defender to a striker or even a goal keeper? Is scoring goals more important than saving them? Does it not make it a prize for being the most favorite player of the majority?

A goal scorer or a forward can lose the ball several times during a match, but one goal can make a huge difference in their performance rating. Whereas a defender or goal keeper aren’t allowed so much luxury. The goal scorers take all the glory, whereas the defenders don’t get enough recognition. Isn’t it unfair?

First Ballon D’Or winner – Sir Stanley Matthews

From the time of Sir Stanley Matthews, the first Ballon d’Or winner in 1956, where the maximum wage used to be £5 a week, to Cristiano Ronaldo in 2013, we have had just one goal keeper winner: Lev Ivanovich Yashin (1963). Franz Beckenbauer, the sweeper and the leader who used to score important goals, along with Cannavaro won the Ballon d’Or for doing well in defense. The FIFA World Player of the Year on the other hand was lifted by only one sweeper/midfielder: Lothar Matthaus in 1991. Matthaus also lifted the Ballon d’Or in 1990 but that year he mainly operated in the midfield for both club and country.

First and only goal keeper to win the Ballon d’Or – Lev Yashin

Leo Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are the usual suspects in every year’s shortlist for the award of the “best player”. There is no doubt that the ‘Magician’ and the ‘Machine’ will go down as the greatest players in the history of the sport. There haven’t been many prolific goal scorers with better records than the duo. They aren’t just great goal scorers, they are scorers of great goals. It won’t be a false statement that we are very lucky to witness this huge rivalry which will one day define this era. It is also an unending debate that who is a better player amongst the two. Both of them have their key attributes like Messi with his dribbling and Ronaldo with his completeness as a player and athlete. Can’t we just leave it to that and enjoy their brilliance?

Will it be ever again be possible that a defender( not necessarily a sweeper) or a goalkeeper wins the award which we consider is for the “best player” on the planet? It is even getting a bit absurd now. Real Madrid released an official statement after Platini’s comments over his personal preference for the award. The club also claimed who they think (obviously Ronaldo) deserved it more than anyone else and why. Cristiano won the LFP Best Player, Best Goal and Best Forward along with the UEFA Best Player in Europe. Is there a need for more recognition? Is it about the tally, record or competition with other players in the history books? Many legends including Pele, Puskas, Dalglish, Baresi and Giggs never won the Ballon d’Or and they are still regarded as the best players of their era. Also, comparing players of different era is nothing but simple-mindedness and that too doing it with the help of numbers doesn’t make any sense.

Attack wins you games, defense wins you titles is a very old cliché, yet we undermine the fact that defenders as well as goal keepers deserve the same recognition as a goal scorer. Shouldn’t FIFA Ballon d’Or be segregated into four individual awards for the best performance in defense, goal keeping, midfield and goal scoring? Isn’t it a team that wins matches, titles and trophies instead of a player? It is about time that someone like Philip Lahm or Paolo Maldini or Peter Schmeichel start getting the recognition they deserve.

Ballon d’Or 2014
The nominees of 2014 Ballon d’Or. Ceremony to be held on Jan 12, 2015

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