Cristiano Ronaldo is now the odds-on favourite to clinch a second Ballon d’Or crown after his hat-trick heroics Tuesday night for Portugal.
According to Chris Harvey of Sky Sports, Ronaldo is the new front-runner for the individual gong.
Amid the fanfare over Ronaldo’s hat-trick at the Friends Arena in Solna, which cemented his country’s spot at next summer’s World Cup, it was reported that FIFA had extended the voting window for the 2013 Ballon d’Or.
FIFA’s decision to allow coaches, captains and journalists to submit their top three choices before Nov. 29 rather than Nov. 15 has drawn criticism from some quarters, as per ESPN FC.
The extended deadline will now allow voters to take into account the second leg of the World Cup playoffs, in which Ronaldo netted a hat-trick.
According to the ESPN FC article, Mundo Deportivo’s Francesc Aguilar broke the news via Twitter.
I have no words. FIFA and France Football have extended the period of voting to Nov. 29 2013. First the jury had to have voted by at least the 15th of this month. The second legs for Brazil 2014 were not included. That was just as unfair as this change is suspicious. Bit by bit FIFA are ruining the Ballon d'Or with the decisions which are taking place. You do not need to be a genius to see that this decision to extend the voting period for the FIFA Ballon d'Or benefits CR7.
The 23-man shortlist for the Ballon d’Or will be whittled down to just three candidates Dec. 9, before the winner is announced at the turn of the new year in Zurich.
It has been largely predicted that Ronaldo, Ribery and Lionel Messi will make up the top three, but there has been much debate about who will finally walk away with the golden ball.
Shame it's taken Messi being injured for people to appreciate Ronaldo's genius. Would be daylight Ribery if he didn't win Ballon d'Or now— Jonathan Stevenson (@Stevo_football) November 19, 2013
Ribery has been rightly lauded for his contribution to Bayern Munich’s treble-winning team.
The winger has yet to lose a competitive game for his club this season, and he was instrumental Tuesday night in securing France’s spot at the 2014 World Cup.
Messi, who has won the Ballon d’Or four years in succession, has also been in remarkable form this year.
The Argentine forward claimed his third Golden Shoe this week. His 46 league goals during the 2012/13 season were the most in Europe.
But with Messi currently sidelined with a hamstring injury, Ronaldo has been hogging the headlines, and it now looks as though the Real Madrid star may have done enough to win the top gong.
Goals Scored Since January 2013: Cristiano Ronaldo - 66 Liverpool - 61 Arsenal - 58 Man City - 56 Chelsea - 54 Man United - 54 Spurs - 39— Football Jokes (@Footy_Jokes) November 19, 2013
According to Paul Campbell of The Guardian, Ronaldo has scored 46 percent of Los Blancos’ goals this season, while bagging 66 in all competitions since the start of 2013.
The controversy over the change of date is sure to overshadow proceedings in the next few days. But it appears only fair that votes are cast as close to the end of the year as possible.