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The FIFA Ballon d’Or has passed after months of lobbying and debate,

With Cristiano Ronaldo as expected taking home the greatest individual prize in world football.

The Ballon d'Or - Ecstasy, rage and everything in betweenThere were shocks, rage and ecstasy, but all in all in was a fair ceremony, albeit drawn out and tedious at times, with the irony of FIFA awarding an Ethics Award adding some much-needed comic relief to proceedings…

Firstly, congratulations to Cristiano Ronaldo for winning the 2015 FIFA Ballon d’Or – Irrespective of personal opinion, nobody can dismiss this achievement as ‘undeserved’, for his scoring record and list of honors is extremely impressive. However, all across the entire ceremony, there were deserved winners everywhere (apart from the laughable FIFPro World XI), and to be fair, the vast majority of candidates in their respective categories would have been deserving had their name been the one read out of the envelope instead of the eventual winner.

It was truly a surreal evening, with FIFA stretching out this ceremony as only they can, while a different range of emotions was on display among the candidates of the numerous main awards. Among the coaches, there was clearly a massive amount of mutual respect, with eventual winner Joachim Löw at pains to praise Carlo Ancelotti and Diego Simeone for their own incredible achievements. There was outrage, though, that the latter did not win the award, but if one looks in context it seems the right decision. Remember, when Jürgen Klopp did almost the exact same a few years ago in terms of working miracles against the might of Europe’s elite, he did not win the FIFA Coach Of The Year either due to another stand-out candidate. Joachim Löw took an injury-ravaged Germany side to what (in theory) is the most valuable title in world football, the World Cup, and thus cries of conspiracy are not only unfair, but horribly deluded. These are three magnificent coaches, and either one could have won the award and have deserved it fully – But the fact is, only one can, and there will always be people who are unhappy, no matter how logical an outcome materialises.

The main event, of course, was the FIFA Ballon d’Or proper, and there were some fascinating conclusions to draw from watching the candidates go through the motions of a tiresome, drawn out event. Cristiano Ronaldo seemed in nervous anticipation, almost expecting the award, but dreading missing out. Manuel Neuer seemed uncomfortable at first, but eventually started enjoying himself in an environment he usually shuns. Lionel Messi, at times, seemed that he would rather be at the dentist, and looked disenchanted – With the highlight for many being his indifferent reaction to Barcelona coach Luis Enrique offering his support through yet another video section within the ceremony. In the end, the expected outcome was revealed, with the Portuguese forward winning the award, but rather than the touching, tearful picture of last season, there was an ill-advised whoop of joy which only succeeded in earning a withering stare from Thierry Henry.

What are you doing?

What are you doing?

One still gets the feeling that Cristiano Ronaldo values personal accolades above anything else, which has always been one of the reasons why people have been put off by him. In terms of pure statistics, the Portuguese deserved to win the award, even though many (including this columnist) would have loved to see a defensive player winning an award dominated by goalscorers for once, for youngsters are being discouraged from becoming the next Franz Beckenbauer, Paolo Maldini or Bobby Moore due to a lack of recognition.

However, one feels Manuel Neuer expected, just like the vast majority of football fans, that he was going to miss out, and enjoyed it all for what it was – A once-in-a-lifetime experience.

As he stated after the ceremony, with a sly smile, He is a team player, and he is above all a World Cup winner – Something his fellow nominees would give anything for.

“I am a team player, and we have become the World Champions, after all” – Manuel Neuer sums up why he is not too disappointed with missing out on the Ballon d’Or.

Lionel Messi, on the other hand, already has four of these awards, but with the troubles Barcelona are currently having, one feels that his heart was not quite in this event – From a steady stream of transfer rumors, to his self-admitted question about where he will play his football next season, one must feel that this is a trying time. Also, the fact that he will probably be used as a pawn in the upcoming Presidential elections at the Camp Nou makes one understand his lack of enthusiasm.

The one major incident that caused utter incredulity among all football fans is the woeful FIFPro World XI, which saw no Atletico Madrid players making the cut, while the defensive accident on legs, David Luiz, and his teammate Thiago Silva, who has looked absolutely lost over the past year, finding themselves in the team ahead of Jerome Boateng, Diego Godin, David Alaba, Miranda and Vincent Kompany, to name a few. Add to that the fact that Andres Iniesta somehow beat out the likes of Luka Modric and Yaya Toure for a midfield berth, and one really has to start wondering whether the players and journalists who vote for this team really have half a clue what actually happens on the pitch. At least there was no Gerard Pique and Dani Alves again…

Is it all worth the bother? The red carpet, the countless video montages, the horrid suits and even worse singing? For me personally, no, but it provides talking points, and what would football be without talking points?

Originally published at inthestandsport.com

Post written by Marco Conradie, Twitter: @MarcoConradie10
for InTheStandSport, Blog: inthestandsport.com, Twitter: @InTheStandSport

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