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FIFA's Ballon d'Or Voting System Flawed?

  • SI.com, Friday, January 11, 2013 12:27 PM

Why does FIFA give the general public access to the votes for its annual Ballon d’Or awards, Sports illustrated's Sid Lowe asks? “The very fact that you can pick through those votes surely conditions them,” he says. “A player votes knowing that his vote will be known and analyzed, questioned.” As a result, “No one seems to be allowed to just vote for who they think should win.” Instead, many, if not most, vote for whom they think they should vote for.

For example, Iker Casillas’ people felt they needed to contact Spain coach Vicente del Bosque’s people just to tell them that Casillas voted for Real Madrid’s Jose Mourinho, his club coach, instead of del Bosque, his national team coach, for the coach of the year award. And while the del Bosque camp told the Casillas camp not to worry, “there is something a little sad in the fact that he ever thought he might have to [worry about not voting for him],” Lowe says.

Indeed. And so, rather unsurprisingly, you get a system where German coaches vote for German players, Italian for Italian players, Spanish for Spanish, etc and so forth.

In the end, it mattered little, as Barcelona’s Lionel Messi still amassed some 42 percent of the vote. Most will feel that the Argentine deservedly won the 2012 Ballon d’Or, but Lowe is left wondering how Spain, probably the best international team in history, has never had a Ballon d’Or winner. He surmises that maybe it’s just because the team really is so good that no individuals stand out as being the undisputed best.

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