FIFA World Player AwardMonday, January 13, 2014
Ronaldo set to top Messi
Cristiano Ronaldo is set to end Lionel Messi’s four-year run as world’s best player award winner today.A Ronaldo victory is expected because of FIFA’s announcement after the World Cup playoffs in November to extend the voting deadline by two weeks.
ZURICH, Switzerland — Cristiano Ronaldo is heavily favoured to end Lionel Messi’s four-year reign as the world’s best player at the FIFA Ballon d’Or gala today.
Ronaldo’s prolific tally of 69 goals for Real Madrid and Portugal seems likely to earn his second FIFA award after finishing runner-up three times in Messi’s dominating era.
Franck Ribery is the third candidate, but the Bayern Munich and France winger needs to score a major upset to add the FIFA accolade to UEFA’s Best Player in Europe award which he collected in August.
A Ronaldo victory is expected because of FIFA’s announcement after the World Cup playoffs in November to extend the voting deadline by two weeks. That brought his inspiring performance and hat-trick for Portugal in Stockholm, completing a 4-2 aggregate win to eliminate Zlatan Ibrahimvic and Sweden, into the calculations. “I did my job as I have been doing all season,” Ronaldo said following the match. “Every year I show what I’m about. I’ve scored 40 or 50 goals a season and that’s not enough for everyone.”
Messi, who got 45 goals for Barcelona and Argentina, was unable to further his case after already being ruled out of action for by a third injury in 2013.
FIFA also allowed the voting college — national team captains and coaches, plus one journalist, from each of world football’s 209 member countries — to change preferences and submit new ballot papers. Voters were invited to select their top three choices from a 23-man shortlist provided by FIFA and France Football magazine.
The adjustment prompted speculation FIFA was seeking to counter speculation in Spain and Portugal that the governing body and its president Sepp Blatter was biased toward Messi and Barcelona.
That long-held conspiracy theory was further fueled in October when Blatter was filmed telling a student audience in Oxford, England, that he did indeed prefer Messi’s more modest personality and that Ronaldo was too concerned about his hairstyle.
Blatter’s subsequent mimicry of Ronaldo having a “commander on the field” stature only seemed to stoke the player’s anger and raise the level of his game even higher in the following weeks. Last week, Ronaldo confirmed he would attend the ceremony in Zurich, ending speculation he would snub FIFA and Blatter in retaliation.