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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Does Messi Deserve The #WorldCup Golden Ball Award?

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by Japheth Akhahunde

A poll by twitter on which team’s flag should adorn the ‘Christ Our Redeemer’ image saw Germany beating Argentina by just over 500 votes. This poll showed that while the battle between Germany and Argentina would be close, Germany was expected to win. The 1-0 result in favor of Germany was not shocking to any impartial fan. It was expected. The real shocker came when the Golden ball was awarded to Messi.

For those who do not know the significance of this award, it is given ‘only’ to the ‘best individual performer’ of the World Cup. When the list of the final ten players nominated was released, it was obvious that the final contest for this individual award lay between – James Rodriguez(Colombia), Lionel Messi (Argentina), Arjen Robben (Holland) and Thomas Muller (Germany).

While 22 year old James Rodriguez scored the most(6 goals) and won the Golden Boot, there was a general feeling that he was not the best player at the World Cup (at least not in the senior category).

This left the contest between Robben, Muller and Messi. Argen Robben registered 3 goals and 1 assist. In fact he was the star man for Holland at the World Cup. Messi slightly bettered that with 4 goals (which came only in the group stage) and an assist. Muller eclipsed both with 5 goals and 3 assists. If you were presented with just these goal and assist stats above and asked to vote the ‘Best’ based only on this, then you would agree with me that Muller should get the Golden Boot.

So how did Messi get it instead? For the sake of clarity, the Golden Ball award is presented to the best player at each FIFA World Cup finals, with a shortlist drawn up by the FIFA technical committee and the winner voted for by representatives of the media.

Those who finish as runners-up in the vote receive the Silver Ball and Bronze Ball awards as the second and third most outstanding players in the tournament respectively. For Messi to have won, means that it was purely based on votes by a select view of media representatives. The flaw inherent in this is that someone may be a favourite without deserving it.

Messi came out first, Muller second and Robben third.

The issue of Messi winning the Golden Ball is polarising. I for one do not believe he deserves it. But there are others who go as far as saying there is a ‘conspiracy’ to favour Messi, and they cite that the Fifa World Best Player award of 2010 (Messi could not score a goal in that year’s World Cup) not awarded to Welsley Sneider who was joint top scorer at that World Cup along with winning all possible club titles with Inter Milan that same year as proof of this.

Whichever side you are on, one thing is sure, posterity will always be split on this issue.

Japheth Akhahunde, a football analyst and writer. Contact him on facebook.com/JaphethJaffyjoffa and on twitter @__JayWalker.

The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. 

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