FIFA President Sepp Blatter has admitted that awarding Argentina's Lionel Messi the Golden Ball for the best player of the tournament at the summer's World Cup was a mistake.
The Barcelona superstar received the award after a subdued performance in the final against Germany. His Argentina side lost 1-0 in extra time.
While Messi had been excellent at times during the competition, scoring four goals, there were seemingly other more deserving candidates for the big award, and Blatter says he thinks the decision was wrong, per AS.
"I think the decision was incorrect. I was surprised when I received the committee’s decision," Blatter said. "They told me they had only looked at 10 of the players who took part in the final."
Indeed, many felt that Colombia's James Rodriguez or Germany's Manuel Neuer—winners of the Golden Boot and Golden Glove, respectively—were perhaps more deserving of the award.
The likes of Arjen Robben, Neymar and Thomas Muller also had a potentially better case than Messi, per BBC and talkSPORT pundit Michael Gray and New York Times journalist Roger Cohen:
As reported by Lee Thomas-Mason in the Daily Mirror, there were plenty expounding the theory at the time that, as both the Golden Ball and Messi are sponsored by Adidas, the sportswear company had a hand in influencing the vote.
Whatever the situation, Messi did not seem overly concerned either way about the award at the time, which is understandable considering he had just lost a World Cup final, per KICKTV:
While he may not have been the best player at the World Cup, Messi has returned to his club football in the new season in fine form and bagged seven goals and seven assists for La Liga-topping Barca already this term, per WhoScored.com.
The Camp Nou outfit lost its first league game of the season away to Real Madrid on Saturday with Messi slightly out of sorts and reportedly nursing an injury.
However, he is set to be fit Saturday for Real Madrid's upcoming La Liga game against Celta de Vigo, and Blatter has likely provided him increased motivation—not that he needed it—to prove any critics wrong with a superlative display.