Thursday, November 3, 2011

Ballon D'or 2011 nominees - a great popularity contest

Previously, The Ballon D’Or was only referred to as the “European Player of the year”. As of 2010, it merged with the “FIFA World Player of Year” award, and it became the ultimate personal accolade for any footballer. The Ballon D’or was already highly regarded before this fusion, and was probably considered to be even more prestigious than FIFA’s award. The nominees are voted for by respected journalists, and while up until 1995 it only included European Footballers, since then it has become a global award. The journalists draw up a huge list of the world’s best players, which is then reduced to a shortlist of 23 players, before the final 3 make the final list.

This week, the shortlist for 2011’s best players was announced and to be honest, it only confirmed my belief that this is not a trophy that includes players based on talent or achievements, but rather on their popularity amongst the media folks. Some of the players on the list are a bit ridiculous. So we’ll go over them all, but bear in mind, we are talking about the best players in the world. Not in a league. Not in a team. Not in big matches. The best players…IN THE WORLD in 2011:

Eric Abidal (France):
In the world? He’s not even the best left back in Spain, not to mention Europe. Yet somehow he makes the list. Apart from his miraculous recovery from a tumor last season (which was admirable), I don’t see how he can make this list. This is a sympathy vote, at best.

Sergio Aguero (Argentina):
Blistering start to life in the Premier League and scored 27 goals in all competitions last season. Deserves his place in the list of best players in the world. Unlikely to be in the top 3 though.

Karim Benzema (France):
Has made a lot of progress with Real Madrid and is on the way up. But I still think it’s a bit too early for him to be considered as one of the best players in the world.

Iker Casillas (Spain):
Best keeper in the world. No doubt. Although, I’d shave my private parts on a video and post it on youtube the day a goalkeeper in this day and age is crowned the best player in world (I said in this day and age).

Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal):
No comment.

Dani Alves (Brazil):
Put him in any other team in the world and he won’t look as good as he does with Barca. Going forward is his forte, but his defensive capabilities (which are rarely tested) and his crossing are both poor in my opinion. His attitude is just as bad.

Samuel Eto'o (Cameroon):
I think he should get a businessman of the year award for his move to Anzhi Makhachkala, rather than an award for his on-the-field achievements.

Cesc Fabregas (Spain):
Fantastic player, but this is an award for 2011. And wasn’t Cesc often injured during the last months of his final season at Arsenal? Wasn’t he completely off-form as well? How does he make the cut? Playing good for a few months doesn't warrant a place. Ask Rafael Van Der Vaart.

Diego Forlan (Uruguay):
Wait. What?

Andres Iniesta (Spain):
Still incredible.

Lionel Messi (Argentina):
Has there ever been a better footballer to ever play the game? All he has to prove is that he can pull it off with Argentina and he’ll be the greatest ever.

Thomas Muller (Germany):
Germany and Bayern Munich’s future teams should be built around this man. Great technique and incredible maturity for his age, we sometimes forget that he’s only 22.

Nani (Portugal):
For all his efforts and progress, he still has a very long way to go before being considered one of the best, especially considering how inconsistent he is. His attitude doesn’t help matters either.

Neymar (Brazil):
Just because a player has got a funky hairstyle and is wanted by Real Madrid doesn’t mean he should be on this list. He’s good. Actually, he's very good. But he’s still only 19 and has proven nothing yet. Really, he’s done nothing worthy of his inclusion.

Mesut Ozil (Germany):
His addition to the list is understandable given his performances last season, however I often wonder if he’s simply flat-track bully, as he seems to perform better when playing against weaker opposition. Still, a worthy inclusion.

Gerard Pique (Spain):
Best defender in the world? It’ll be difficult to find a defender close to his class. Deserves his place on the list as the only central defender.

Wayne Rooney (England):
The only Englishman in the list, and probably rightly so. England’s best player, Manchester United’s best player and one of the best players in the Premier League.

Bastian Schweinsteiger (Germany):
The most underrated player on this list. He deserves more credit for the amount of work he puts in during every game.

Wesley Sneijder (Netherlands):
He doesn't deserve his place in this list, especially as his Inter Milan side have been struggling since the start of this season and he has been uninspiring. Just because a player was nominated the previous year, should not make him an automatic candidate one year later. Great player, no doubt about it, but he's had a poor 2011 by his standards.

Luis Suarez (Uruguay):
A new shining light in the Premier League since he joined Liverpool. His performances at the Copa America alone merit his place on the list. At Anfield, he’s been pretty impressive too.

David Villa (Spain):
Still a great goalscorer and one of the most feared strikers in the world. An easy inclusion.

Xabi Alonso (Spain):
A fantastic midfield general, but the exact same player that Liverpool sold a couple of years ago. Why didn't he make the list back then? Ah...

Xavi (Spain):
No comment.

Out of the 23 shortlisted, 13 of the supposed “best players in the world” play for Barcelona and Real Madrid. That is nonsense. Seriously. I understand and agree that both are great teams, but this list is supposed to be of the best players in THE WORLD, and not the shining lights of the “clasico” only.

How can there only be 1 representative from the Serie A? Or only two from Germany (both from the same club)? Or no Van Persie (28 goals in 27 games in 2011)? If Casillas has a place in it, surely Manuel Neuer deserves a place in there too? If Neymar makes the list, then we can unquestionably start including players like Eden Hazard, Phil Jones and Jack Wilshere on this list? Those are players actually proving themselves in top leagues.

Some of the players on this list are just there for reasons that have nothing to do with their performances in 2011. From what I can gather, basically, if you want to get on the list your major ambition in your career must be to join Real Madrid or Barcelona, as they’re winning all the popularity contests these days, and you're very likely to make the list... or just get a new haircut and make a lot of noise in the media and you will get noticed. Anyone want to bet Balotelli will be on the list next year?

It'll still probably end up being Messi (1), Ronaldo(2) and Xavi(3).


  1. ur just jealous la liga has the best players.

    HA! :P

  2. Bear with me if this will be a long comment, and I will wait for a clarification from you, too, on a couple of questions below:
    1- I always thought that the best player award is given based on a season long performance + any big Summer tournament. For this, I always get frustrated that some players who start seasons in a good way are included in the same year's award (For example, a player starts season 2011/2012 in a great way and was not as good in season 2010/2011 he should not be included in the 2011 award)
    2- The Maradona case is still the most stupid one. People say Messi has gatehred the award and Maradona never got it. Thank you for explaining to whom the award was awarded at first to those who really think they know football
    3- I can make the same promise about shaving my own parts and posting it on YouTube if a defender wins it any time soon. The Maldini vs Cannavaro case is an evidence.
    4- I am still hurt at the Batigol snub
    5- Do we really trust everyone voting for this list and award?
    6- I did not get the Xavi comment, so can you please elaborate?

    I believe the shortlist just goes after selecting any player who is in a big club and/or has done a couple of famous acts (like the Abidal case)

    Great job, great article, and I loved the Diego Forlan comment.

  3. @Rach - I'd rather sit and watch the Premier League on any day, rather than watch the two-team league that is La Liga.

    1- I agree, I thought the same thing, but the Copa America is somehow downgraded at this level.
    2 - Maradona never got the award simply because he was never allowed to. The simple fact that George Weah is the first non-european to win it, says it all.
    3 - A defender is much more likely than a GK, that's for sure.
    4 - Batigol is a LEGEND.
    5 - We have no choice but to accept their votes. Because time, and history, will tell that these players were the "chosen ones".
    6 - Xavi and Ronaldo - No Comment, as in, there's nothing to say. Their inclusion is obvious as they are both incredible players.

    Thanks for RT, the comment and the support man! :) I really appreciate it a lot!

  4. this time messi will be crowned the world best for the third time, no body can stop like it or not.

  5. You don't have to disrespect and insult others simply to hold your own ground. If you do, that shows how shaky your own position is.