POLL: The Unfairness of the Ballon d'Or
So the news is out and the Ballon d’Or nominees are Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Andres Iniesta. Now this is not an argument as to who will win. I’m going to try and highlight something that I find rather unfair about the whole concept of Best in the World. Being a defender, please do not expect me to go easy on the strikers. I will be true to my favourite league, La Liga, and you will find me biased towards it. But only to highlight some points.
Let us take a look at history first. We have seem too many strikers winning the Ballon d’or; I dont deny that they were well deserved. But the award seems to invariably go to an attacking player. This year, it is a center forward, a winger and an attacking midfielder, all three attack, score and assist. Seldom have we seen a defender win this prestigious award. Franz Beckenbauer stands out in this list. Besides, a defender winning two Ballon d’Ors is rare. Has Pique, arguably the best defender today, even been selected? But he has played an integral part in Spain and in Barcelona.
This is the first of the problems I have with the Ballon d’Or.
Is not defense as important as offense?! A mediocre striker may score a goal, but a powerful defense must be on its toes at all times. Defense is an integral part of any game of football. Defenders can also score goals, but very few offensive players ever defend. Even the likes of Leo Messi are not capable of frequent defending. Defense requires strength, but in the right amount. Tackles have to be perfectly timed and brilliantly executed, otherwise it’s a yellow, a free kick in a dangerous position or a penalty. Worse yet, mistime a tackle on the last man, it is a straight red. Then there is the sheer skill of holding the line, catching opposing forwards in the offside trap, sweeping the ball out of the penalty area, making important and frequent interceptions, charging down the opposing strikers, assisting the midfielders, tackling and running down the flanks…..You get the point.
As you can see, I have highlighted some of our defensive duties and the risk involved in doing it wrong.
And as for keepers ever winning, forget it. Lev Yashin won it once, and he is the only keeper to ever win it. That itself speaks of what a brilliant player he was. Again, I never saw him play and I am digging up history. But doesn’t a keeper prevent more goals than the best striker scores? Aren’t his reflexes equally if not more spectacular? So why has a keeper only ever won the Ballon d’Or only once?
I used to feel that only us fans have a misconception that offense is the only aspect of football worth noticing, but almost every international player evidently feels the same way. It is not fair. Football is a team game, played by 11 players, each with an important role.
I am at a loss as to how to correct this. I know as a defender how unappreciated we are. And goalkeepers even lesser. Iker Casillas, a goalkeeper, has led his team to victory in the greatest ever competition. He won TWO Euros, and a World Cup. He made spectacular saves all throughout his career for country and is doing the same for his club; and his captaincy was and is brilliant. I think he deserves the Ballon d’Or much much more than any of the three players selected today.