Sepp Blatter has said he prefers Lionel Messi to Cristiano Ronaldo, following the revelation of the 2013 Ballon d'Or shortlist on Tuesday.
Gareth Bale and Luis Suarez have been shortlisted alongside Ronaldo, Messi, Van Persie and Ribery for the Ballon d'Or http://t.co/DmgSnP3W1U— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) October 29, 2013
UPDATE: Tuesday, Oct. 29, at 7:21 p.m. BST
Blatter commented on the situation on Twitter:
Dear @Cristiano. I apologise if you were upset by my light-hearted answer at private event on Friday. I never meant to offend you. (1/2)— Joseph S Blatter (@SeppBlatter) October 29, 2013
I am an honorary 'socio' at Real Madrid @cristiano & explained we've many talented players in world game, including you. Best wishes. (2/2)— Joseph S Blatter (@SeppBlatter) October 29, 2013
UPDATE: Tuesday, Oct 29, at 5:37 p.m. BST
From Rob Harris of the Associated Press:
This video shows the respect and consideration that FIFA has for me, my club and my country. Much is explained now http://t.co/PzcvbtBoCT— Cristiano Ronaldo (@Cristiano) October 29, 2013
I wish Mr.Blatter health and a long life, with the certainty that he'll continue to witness the successes of his favourite teams and players— Cristiano Ronaldo (@Cristiano) October 29, 2013
---End of update---
UPDATE: Tuesday, Oct 29, at 1:25 p.m. BST
Real Madrid have since responded to Blatter's interview, during which he referred to Ronaldo's vanity, with Carlo Ancelotti revealing via Inside Spanish Football:
I consider it a lack of respect.
I know that our president has sent a letter to FIFA, asking that they rectify this lack of respect to a player who is very serious and professional. I’m in complete agreement with our president.
---End of update---
Per Eurosport, Blatter praised both players during his interview and offered reasons as to the duo's greatness, before insisting it was not his place to decide which was better. However, he eventually sided with Messi.
A video of the humorous conversation, at the Oxford Union, can be seen here:
They are both exceptional players but are totally different. Football is about the difference between stars.
Lionel Messi is a good boy that every father, every mother would like to have at home. He is very quick, he is not exuberant, he plays well, he is a good boy. That is what makes him so popular, because he is this nice man and that is why he gets votes.
The other one [Ronaldo], he is something else, he is like a commander on the field of play. This is the other side of football and it is good to have such commanders on the field also. That gives life to football. One has more expenses for the hairdresser than the other, but that doesn’t matter.
I cannot say who is the best, there will be a contest this year and then January next year it will be announced. I like both of them, but I prefer Messi.
The argument as to who is the better player between Messi and Ronaldo will rage and rage, but Blatter is correct that the next battle between the two will be settled in January with the announcement of the 2013 Ballon d'Or winner.
If the number of Ballon d'Or crowns is the best way to decide, the Argentine is the better player at the current time. Messi has won the award on the last four occasions since Ronaldo's solitary success in 2008.
To many, though, the award holds little credence as to which player has been the best in a particular calendar year, but rather is a popularity contest of world football's biggest names.
That is not to say that Messi has not been a deserving winner, having been simply sensational at times in recent seasons. Rather, it's to say that the award is not necessarily the best way of judging which player is better as Blatter suggests.
Who is better?
The fact that only two defenders in Lothar Matthaus and Fabio Cannavaro have won the annual FIFA contest since 1991 would suggest that the contest is weighted in favour of attacking players and headline grabbers.
Messi and Ronaldo, given their record-breaking goalscoring exploits, fall firmly into that category—regardless of whether other players have contributed more to major successes this year.
Blatter is entitled to his personal opinion and many will agree with him. However, whether he should be expressing his own views in public as president of FIFA is open to serious debate.