Cristiano Ronaldo Ahead of Lionel Messi Amid FIFA Ballon d'Or Voting Controversy

Leigh WalshCorrespondent INovember 20, 2013

LISBON, PORTUGAL - NOVEMBER 15:  Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal looks focussed during the National Anthems ahead of the FIFA 2014 World Cup Qualifier Play-off First Leg between Portugal and Sweden at Estadio da Luz on November 15, 2013 in Lisbon, Portugal.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

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. 

Aguilar tweeted:

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. 

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. 

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.