UEFA president Michel Platini has added a bit of spice to the race for this year's Ballon d'Or award by jokingly insinuating that FIFA voting was pushed back to help the case of Cristiano Ronaldo.
Just six weeks prior to the 2013 winner being announced, the Frenchman joked that the timing of the voting suspension, per Spanish newspaper AS (h/t ESPN FC's Dermot Corrigan) was suspiciously convenient for the Real Madrid superstar:
It is a FIFA decision which coincided with the Portugal playoff for the World Cup in Brazil, with Cristiano’s three goals in the game against Sweden. It could be that FIFA did it to please Cristiano...
Although it seems like nothing more than a tongue-in-cheek comment from the football figure, Platini's words nonetheless only help in causing ripples among the community who might have shared a similar opinion.
FIFA's reason for delaying Ballon d'Or voting was reported as being due to the low number of voters actually participating in the poll.
Speaking with French outlet L'Equipe (per ESPN FC's Ian Holyman) last week, FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke defended the organisation's decision:
If we decided to extend the deadline, it's simply because we didn't have—to our mind—enough votes. We have always said that we wanted to have 75 percent of the votes. The Ballon d'Or has to be representative of a credible opinion.
Last year, we had more than 80 percent. There's nothing to hide. There's no manipulation, no opportunity to interfere with the procedure nor the result of the vote, which is watched over by a solicitor.
Ronaldo scored four goals over the course of Portugal's two-legged affair against the Swedes, booking his nation a spot at the 2014 World Cup and writing his name further into football folklore as a result.
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The forward now has 67 goals to his name in 2013, according to Transfermarkt.co.uk, and looks likely to be facing Barcelona's Lionel Messi and Bayern Munich's Franck Ribery as his main competition for the title of 2013's best player.
Platini's comments only help in furthering the argument that FIFA's extension served in helping the 28-year-old to what would be a second Ballon d'Or for his own cabinet.
Had the initial voting deadline been kept, Ronaldo's star performance for Portugal would not have fallen within the time period.
Platini's latest offering only adds to intrigue about one of the tightest Ballon d'Or races in years. Ronaldo was the least successful of the expected final three, yet arguably enjoyed the finest individual year.
Messi mixed outstanding goalscoring feats with a La Liga success, while Ribery was less spectacular than his rivals, yet swept all before him in a treble success for Bayern Munich. All three could win.