Ribery goes head-to-head with Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi for the title of world’s best player, with the award ceremony scheduled for Jan. 13. However, Bayern are angry at FIFA's decision to extend voting for two crucial weeks.
Munich expect their man to win after his sensational year and will potentially challenge the result if Ronaldo or Messi come out on top. President Uli Hoeness told tz (h/t Stephan Uersfeld of ESPN FC):
We will look at every single vote that came in prior to Nov. 15 and at the votes that came in afterwards
It disturbed me severely that the voting period, which had an end date to it, was extended all of a sudden and still I don’t know why. Hopefully this is a democratic election, and there is nothing odd there.
Uersfeld reports that Hoeness will seek an explanation for the extended voting deadline, quoting the president saying, “Then we might be able to say something about it.”
The importance of the change in date, from Nov. 15 to Nov. 29, centres largely on Ronaldo. Had FIFA kept the original voting deadline, the Real Madrid superstar’s hat-trick heroics (on Nov. 19) in leading Portugal to the World Cup would have been too late to count toward the award.
By extending the voting period, FIFA allowed for a swell of momentum in Ronaldo’s direction, and the former Manchester United man now appears the favourite to win the Ballon d’Or.
The governing body claimed the decision was made purely on the basis of a lack of votes. Secretary General Jerome Valcke explained that FIFA was giving voters more time to make their choice, per L'Equipe (h/t Ian Holyman of ESPN FC).
Hoeness appears to imply a belief that, if pre-Nov. 15 votes were counted, Ribery would win.
His fear is that the post-Nov. 15 votes will swing the award to Ronaldo, in which case Bayern appear ready to challenge the authorities.
However, there is still the distinct possibility that Messi could beat both men to the award, despite an injury-ravaged end to 2013. SkyBet has Messi as second-favourite, per Oddschecker.
There is a compelling argument to be made for all three players.
Ronaldo has enjoyed the best 12 months in terms of individual statistics. He is closing in on 70 goals in 2013 and single-handedly dragged Portugal to the World Cup. However, the Madrid man won no major trophies and has to take partial blame for Portugal’s dire qualifying campaign prior to their playoff with Sweden.
Messi is second to Ronaldo in terms of goals, but he did play a starring role in Barcelona’s La Liga triumph. For a mix of individual star quality and success, Messi is the voter’s choice.
Ribery’s goals tally does not compare to the other two players, but he has supplied the most assists. Crucially, he was the star individual of Bayern Munich’s stunning treble and would arguably be the most accurate symbol of a year dominated by the Bundesliga giants.