Remember being back at school sports days? There's always some kid who wins everything, then gets an extra prize... for winning all of the other prizes. It's completely pointless, just an excuse to hand out another medal. That's the Ballon d'Or.
In the last year, Cristiano Ronaldo has won the Champions League, Uefa Super Cup, Spanish Cup and the Club World Cup. In the 60 games he played for club and country in 2014, he scored 61 goals and set up a further 22. These are the accolades that matter - why on earth should the public care one jot whether he wins a glorified popularity contest?
The big, glitzy ceremony gives the game away a bit - it's just an excuse for Fifa and co to throw a party, pat themselves on the back, get a few drinks down and rub shoulders with the great and the good. If it was at the end of a season, it might be more palatable. Everyone loves a good unwind after nine months flat out. But now? In the middle of the season for most of the players involved?
The event itself was - as ever - completely devoid of any drama, too. Ronaldo was 1/6 to win the award pre-ceremony, with nearest competitor Lionel Messi all the way out at 7/1. Perhaps it was fitting that most of the evening was a victory parade for the one player who seems to care the most about the award (see his weird, weird celebration), but it also meant that there was basically no reason for anyone to bother watching at all. It would've been a better move to sit on the couch and catch up on Breaking Bad. Or spending the time putting dinner on. Or writing 750 words about the pointlessness of it all, perhaps.
It's hard to take the whole award seriously - obviously. That's why it was quite endearing to see Roy Hodgson's voting when the breakdown was released. The England coach voted for a top three of Javier Mascherano, Philipp Lahm and Manuel Neuer. Those are the votes of a man who knows exactly what this award is about and couldn't care less. Suddenly, English football seems like it's actually in sensible hands.
It's all started to get a bit Eurovision now, too - and we're not just talking about Messi's style choices. For example, Gareth Bale finished 12th overall, with around 1% of the total points available, but a closer look shows that he got about 16% of the points from British voters - and would've finished second if only British votes counted. Favouritism? What favouritism?
It's not just the British voters who are biased - Messi picked up about twice as many votes in South America as he did in Europe, while no non-European player broke into the top three in Europe.
So it's an awkward ceremony in the middle of the season, everyone basically knows the winner in advance, we don't get to watch any football (which, for football fans, is kind of an important part of a football event), the voting isn't even done entirely on merit, so... what's the point, again?
The Puskas award is the only award given on the night that's actually any fun, but it's still the sort of thing that should be sorted out by a public vote and then just announced online, without the ceremony. It'd be easy to set up and fan-voted awards are no more biased than the current voting systems seem to be. Probably less so, in fact. Stick a football fan in front of their laptop and go "Hey, here's ten brilliant goals. Watch them over and over again until you can pick your favourite," and you're sorted. It's not like someone's going to turn that down.
But no. This is Fifa, so any progress is going to be slower than Richard Dunne, with twice as many own goals along the way. So fret not, Ballon d'Or fans - if there are any of you out there - it's not going to go away any time soon. You can keep squabbling over whether it's a Ronaldo year or a Messi year (the pair have now shared the award for the last seven years, yaaaaaaaawn), just don't expect us to share in your excitement.
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