The most prestigious award in football is given to the best performer in a calender year, as France Football announces the 30-man shortlist for FIFA Ballon d’Or 2016.
So who will win FIFA Ballon d’or 2016? We will have our answer soon as the France Football, collaborating with FIFA, has announced the players, one of whom will be awarded the best player in the world.
As in the previous years, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are expected go head-to-head for this highly contested prize, with French striker Antoine Griezmann tipped by many to challenge the duo.
So far, France Football has announced 20 players, alphabetically. Among the names announced, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are the star names that represent La Liga, while Sergio Aguero and Kevin de Bruyne are the representatives of the Premier League.
Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez have missed out somewhat controversially, while Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez are selected to continue Leicester fairytale.
The remaining names are to be unveiled later this day.
Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the hottest contender to win this award as he had wonderful year with Real Madrid and ortugal. This will be his fourth if the Portuguese is chosen once again.
Many football personalities have backed Ronaldo including former Real Madrid defender Roberto Carlos, who even suggested Ronaldo has the Ballon d’Or trophy at home already.
The Brazillian told AS, “I think Cristiano Ronaldo already has the Ballon d’Or at home but he hasn’t told anyone!”
“He’s taken time to get back to being himself after the knee injury but from now on he’ll show us all the Cristiano we all know, just like he played for Portugal. I wish him all the luck in the world.”
Carlos’s endorsement for Ronaldo may not be a surprise considering he is a Real Madrid legend. But, Xavi Hernandez, the Barcelona legend, has also pointed out Cristiano as this year’s favorite. The Catalan suggested that the Portuguese, this year, has the numbers to win Ballon d’Or, pointing to Ronaldo’s Champions League and Euro 2016 triumph.
Meanwhile, one significant rule change has occurred from this year in Ballon d’Or award as FIFA and the France Football parted ways. The association between FIFA and the France Football ended just a month ago, which means the name of the award will be called what it used to be called before 2009, the Ballon d’Or. Unlike last year, when the winner was chosen by a process of voting by national team captains, manager, and journalists, this year Ballon d’Or voting is only done by an international group of journalists, as reported by Goal.
Apart from name change, it has been announced that previously common 23-man shortlist will be extended to 30-man shortlist, and there will be no top-three announcement before the ceremony.
Under FIFA, the award was criticized for being just a popularity contest, a claim strengthened by the fact that only marketable players have won last nine Ballon d’Ors –namely Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Kaka.
This week, Barcelona striker Luis Suarez, when asked about his Ballon d’Or chances this year, gave his honest opinion that his image is not marketable enough to be handed the award.
As reported by Soccer, Suarez, who was collecting his golden shoe award for being top-scorer last season, said, “The Ballon d’Or is more to do with marketing and press than for achievements on the pitch,”.
“I’ve earned all the awards I’ve been given. The Golden Shoe is for scoring the most goals and there’s no option for people to take that away from me.
“I don’t have a chance [with] the Ballon d’Or because it works around marketing and I don’t have that. My ambition is to win another Champions League, that would be great.”
The Ballon d’Or award is schedule to be presented on January 9, 2017.
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[Featured Image by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images]