UEFA president Michel Platini has criticised the Ballon d'Or winner voting process and claimed that since it merged with the World Player of the Year award it has been unbalanced.
Despite winning five trophies with Bayern Munich, Franck Ribery was overlooked in favour of Cristiano Ronaldo, who failed to win silverware with Real Madrid in 2013 despite performing phenomenally on an individual level.
ESPN FC's Mark Rodden and Stephan Uersfeld quote Platini as saying that the decision to snub Ribery poses a problem:
For 50 years, the Ballon d’Or took into account trophies won on the pitch but something has changed since FIFA took it over. That a Spanish player didn’t win in 2010 after the World Cup and that Franck would not be recognised even though he won everything -- that poses a problem.
Is Michel Platini right?
However, another ESPN FC report by Dermot Corrigan quotes four-time Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi as congratulating Ronaldo on his win, saying that it was deserved: "I want to congratulate Cristiano because he was the winner and deserved it."
The main problem is that, although Ribery was outstanding for Bayern, he was part of a gifted team that thrived on the fact that there was no one outstanding member.
The likes of Manuel Neuer, Philipp Lahm, Thomas Mueller, Arjen Robben and Bastian Schweinsteiger all played major roles within the team, but none stood out to the extent that Messi does for Barcelona or Ronaldo does for Real.
Bayern's team effort was partially recognised in three of their players being named in the FIFPRO Team of the Year and their former coach Jupp Heynckes winning the award for best male coach:
And as a consequence, when a player was injured, suspended or out of form, the team unit were able to compensate for that loss and continue on.
After years of outstanding contribution to football, it was a just reward for Ronaldo to be recognised, regardless of his lack of honours at club and international level.
According to BBC Sport, Ronaldo's record of 66 goals in 56 appearances for Real Madrid in 2013 and his vital hat-trick for Portugal against Sweden in a World Cup play-off game equalled a player of awesome ability in his athletic prime.
On his official Twitter account Ronaldo also highlighted his achievements:
Platini argues that it would be fitting for Ribery to have won the Ballon d'Or due to his feat in winning five trophies with Bayern, but that is to detract from the achievement of his team-mates, many of whom were as crucial in securing success as he was.
If it had been a weaker field then perhaps Ribery might have gotten the recognition that Platini felt he deserved. But history will remember Ronaldo as a great of the game, and his second Ballon d'Or is part of that legacy.