Recently we saw the shortlist for this year’s Ballon D’or announced and to say that no one was surprised with the names it featured would be an understatement. The usual suspects of football deity Lionel Messi, metro-sexual icon Cristiano Ronaldo and everyone’s second favourite little guy Andres Iniesta were named on a list that is starting to look a bit familiar year after year. Granted Spanish maestro Iniesta wasn’t included in the top three names last year but both Ronaldo and Messi were and two years ago the list read Messi, Iniesta, Xavi; all names that we have become used to seeing in lists around this time of year.
An easy choice
Now, I’m not for one moment suggesting that any of these names aren’t worthy of the accolades they are continuously nominated for; just that maybe the repetitive nature of these people constantly appearing is becoming tiresome. I’m sure most of us wouldn’t mind admitting that in the last few years, picking the names of the players to put up for the Ballon D’or has just been a case of writing Lionel Messi’s name down and then picking two others from a hat that contains the names of Ronaldo, Xavi and Iniesta; something that even a four year old could manage.
A large number of football fans could probably go even further and say that, in recent times, they could name the winner of the Ballon D’or, not just before the list was announced, but before the year even began. And after yet another year filled with numerous hat-tricks, man of the match performances and record breaking goal tallies; if on January the 7th 2013 the words ‘and the winner is’ are not followed by ‘Lionel Messi’ there will be more than a few shocked faces.
It’s a given
Once again, I am not trying to say that Mr Barcelona doesn’t deserve his status as the FIFA world player of the year, multiple Ballon D’or winner, FIFpro world player of the year and anything you can throw at him. In my opinion he is the best player in the world, a great role model in football for kids and he probably will be for a few more years to come; but do we really need to make it official anymore? Surely it’s so much of a given that FIFA could just save money on those gold envelopes and have Messi standing beside the stage ready and waiting with his well-rehearsed acceptance speech.
Even if they are worthy of their place, a competition with the same contenders each year isn’t really a competition. I’m sure even seasoned viewers of the X Factor would cease to be interested if they just wheeled out the same line-up of hopefuls every time (even if it does feel like that is actually what they do).
Some other contenders
This year saw some great performances which, in a world without the aforementioned names, would have been enough to at least make the top three for this prestigious reward. Andrea Pirlo for example, after being deemed ‘past it’ by AC Milan, has helped Juventus to a Serie A and Italian Super cup double as well as being one of, if not the best player at Euro 2012. The way he masterfully controlled each and every game had everybody raving about his performances but yet he still wasn’t considered to be one of the top three players this year.
Similarly, players like Radamel Falcao, Neymar, Yaya Toure, and Sergio Aguero have all had excellent years for their clubs, scoring plenty of goals and helping their domestic teams to success. And although they may have been let down by the lack of accomplishment experienced at international level this year, no one would have begrudged them a place in the top three.
Let’s face it, FIFA have probably made the right decision in the three names they have put forward but has anyone ever told Sepp Blatter that variety is the spice of life? Why not rename the Ballon D’or the ‘Messi medal’, present it to the magician every year and create another award for everyone else fight it out for.