Initially scheduled on November 15, the deadline for the FIFA Ballon d’Or votes has been postponed to November 29. While the decision will be welcomed with a big smile by Cristiano Ronaldo, this is a particularly bad news for Franck Ribery. The Frenchman may have lost his last hopes of winning the Ballon d’Or with FIFA’s decision.
Soccer’s governing body also announced that all the coaches and captains that had already voted have the opportunity to change their votes if they want to. FIFA explained its decision by the fact that many coaches and players have yet to register their votes.
After his exceptional 2012-13 season with Bayern Munich, Ribery seemed to be in a very good position to win football’s most prestigious individual award until FIFA’s decision. If votes had been closed on the initial date, the European playoff World Cup qualifiers would not have counted and Ronaldo’s exceptional performance on Tuesday against Sweden would not have helped the Portuguese in his Ballon D’or bid.
Unfortunately for Ribery, FIFA reopened the votes after the Real Madrid player scored four times in two games against Sweden, netting a fantastic hat trick in the second leg on Tuesday. After he almost single-handedly qualified Portugal for the World Cup, Ronaldo seems to have gone ahead of Ribery in the Ballon d’Or race. With Lionel Messi‘s injury, this was a unique chance for Ribery to win the award.
Many rumors affirm that FIFA’s decision was justified by a need to repair its President’s blunder. Last month, Sepp Blatter criticized Ronaldo by describing him as a ”commander on the field of play” before suggesting that the Portuguese ”spends more time at the hairdresser” than Messi.
Even though Blatter has apologized to Ronaldo and Real Madrid, the damage was already done. Since then, Ronaldo has scored 13 goals in six games. Ronaldo has now scored 66 goals in 2013, and it’s difficult to imagine the Ballon d’Or being awarded to anyone else.
While FIFA’s decision is difficult to understand, it is important to note that Ronaldo, should he get the Ballon d’Or, will have deserved it more than anyone else.