The format of the Ballon d'Or needs to change, says Philipp Lahm
Philipp Lahm the ex-German national team skipper who has been playing for Bayern Munich as a defender since 1995 and also happens to be the squad captain, penned his thoughts on the Ballon d’Or in an exclusive article for Goal.com.
The German defender wishes for the format of the award to be changed a bit as it has become more of a popularity contest for strikers.
Lahm compared the process of selection or voting for the FIFA Ballon d’Or to voting events common on Facebook, he said that the results of an FB poll would have been the same as the results on Monday.
The three most popular players on Facebook happen to be Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Neymar, and Lahm is of the opinion that all three have earned their position on the podium.
It goes without saying that the award is for the best footballer in the world. “Only a player who not only plays internationally, but who is successful on the biggest stage has the necessary relevance to stand a chance,” Lahm said.
“There's nothing wrong with this formula. It makes sense that the player of the year is someone who is an international and competes in top club competitions.”
Votes are cast by national coaches, national captains and some privileged journalists from 209 countries around the globe and Lahm himself been on the voter’s seat for five times. Yet, he thinks that most of the time the voters do not bother to go into an in-depth analysis of the topic.
“I know the procedure. During the season you receive a message and you are asked to name three players from a list of candidates. And then you simply go for the obvious choices – which brings us back to Facebook," Lahm said.
"You are stuck with the best-known names - players who you immediately remember pictures or games of. Players who are everywhere, on and off the pitch. You vote for the 'most visible' players.
"That's why the Ballon d'Or has become a vote for the 'world's best striker'. That's not my embittered perspective as a defensive player but a neutral and statistically proven fact.”
Lahm goes on to give examples of a few exceptions, like Fabio Cannavaro, the Italian centre-back who is the only defender to have ever won the Ballon d’Or. The former German international also mentioned the name of Lothar Matthaus, the offensive-minded German midfielder who won it in 1991.
The names of, Zinedine Zidane, who won the Best Player of the Year award thrice in 1998, 2000 and 2003 and legendary Russian goalkeeper Lev Yashin, who won it in 1963, were also mentioned. But, as Lahm points out, they were all before the dawn of the digital age. The tendency, says the Bayern skipper, has been to select goal scorers for the prestigious award.
Lahm is well aware that the game has always been in need of goalscorers and the world is easily attracted to strikers but football according to him is about “teamwork, unity, defence, assists, sacrifice.”
Philipp Lahm is against the idea of FIFA honouring the popular players who run the showbiz and suggests a different system where there will be four separate awards for four players from each position. Namely, a striker, a midfielder, a defender and a goalkeeper.
Lahm says he is not someone who believes that there can be a single player who can be called the 'World’s Best' in a game which is primarily about teamwork.
However the fullback did not fail to congratulate Lionel Messi, this year’s winner of the gong as he thinks Messi is the “deserved winner for the award of the world's best striker.”