Cracking the Ballon d’Or 2013

This year FIFA’s best player award went to Cristiano Ronaldo amidst a lot of speculation. We at Goalden Times look at the voting pattern to understand the dynamics behind the final choice.

So, as expected widely – and deservedly so – Cristiano Ronaldo reclaims the most prestigious individual award in world football after four years. While the debate continues on whether it is justified to award one individual in a team game, no one is questioning why Ronaldo won it. Ballon d’Or winner is decided by coaches, captains and media personnel across the globe. Each can nominate three players who, according to them, have outperformed their counterparts. The first ranked player gets five points, second three and the last player gets one point from each vote.

If we analyse the numbers from last two years’ voting – actually, there is no need for analysis –Lionel Messi won it hands down against Ronaldo.

As is evident from the above tables, captains, coaches and media representatives across the world had unanimously chosen Messi as the best player in 2011 and 2012. Even though there was a slight shift towards the Portuguese star in 2012, that was not enough to cover the mammoth gap between the two.

But the focus shifted to a certain Franck Ribery in 2013 on the back of his treble winning season with Bayern Munich. So, let us see how he fared against these two, along with Andres Iniesta and Xavi – voted the third best player for the last few seasons – and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who will always be the winner in his own opinion.


This is undoubtedly one of the most fiercely contested years — at least among the top three. And that does not include Zlatan. It is apparent that Ribery was the media favourite. But that is not all, let us dig a bit deeper.

Messi and Ribery had to contend with their own teammates who were all in good form throughout the season! This is a paradox, especially considering football is a team game where individual brilliance should auger well only for the team. But not here. Barcelona and Bayern teammates have robbed Messi and Ribery off precious points which might not have changed the outcome but certainly would have resulted in a photo finish between Ronaldo and Messi.





So we find the following:

  • Ribery has been Media favourite in Asia and Europe – he got the First choice vote almost three times more than his closest rival, Ronaldo there.
  • In other regions, he runs close to both Messi and Ronaldo and thus emerges the overall Media favourite.
  • Ronaldo and Messi carry on their usual battle in every other category – barring the African Coaches’ voting, where Messi misses out the 2nd spot to Ribery by a single vote, Ribery does not feature in the top two in any other segment.
  • Asia – the region which generates maximum revenue for the European football through television rights – is equally divided between the top two as far as the national team captains and coaches are concerned.
  • Same is the case for European coaches. However, European captains have been faithful to their continental colours – only six out of 45 thought Messi was the most outstanding player of the year.
  • But they cannot be blamed. In Africa, both the captains’ and coaches’ groups thought that Messi was only second best to Ronaldo.
  • The competition was neck to neck in Other regions.

Messi had an injury , and by his own unbelievably high standards, a pretty moderate season. So Ronaldo was a firm favourite to win this year. But even with Messi’s average year, most of the people thought he was too good not to be their second choice. This is where Ribery lost ground – it was a three-horse race where Ribery ran Ronaldo close for the first choice vote but was nowhere close as the second choice.BDR_8

More numbers

  • There were representatives from 19 countries – and a total of 92 votes – where the top vote did not go to any of the podium finishers. But there was no country where the national team coach, captain and media representative – all three picked up someone besides Ronaldo, Messi and Ribery as their favourite.
  • Only 27 people did not have anyone of the top three feature in their top two picks. Only one team’s – New Zealand – captain and coach did not vote for any of the top-two. They preferred Gareth Bale followed by Neymar. But their last vote went to Messi.
  • There were 11 instances where the entire vote set differed with the final outcome. Understandably this exclusive list comprises Messi and Ronaldo themselves – being captain of their national teams, they could not vote for themselves and hence decided not to vote for their direct competitors also. The list also features coaches from Belgium and Italy. And only one media personnel, Seium Michael from Eritrea, Eastern Africa.