For a few minutes on Tuesday evening, it seemed that all Cristiano Ronaldo’s efforts against Sweden were in vain.
Sure, his majestic hat-trick was sending Portugal to next summer’s World Cup finals, but with this year’s Ballon d’Or voting already closed, had he left things too late? Fifa’s deadline for national team coaches and captains, and participating journalists, to submit their choices was last Friday, November 15. With the votes already in, Bayern Munich’s Franck Ribery was clear favourite to take the 2013 prize.
But then, somewhere between Ronaldo’s third goal and the final whistle at the Friends Stadium in Solna, it emerged that Fifa would accept votes up until November 29. Choices already submitted could also be changed to take into account recent performances such as say, one which single-handedly dragged your country to the World Cup.
This was a new one for many fans and pundits around Madrid. They, and apparently Ronaldo himself, were sure Fifa were biased against him, with Sepp Blatter’s infamous video mockery taken as proof.
But Madrid daily AS now beamed yesterday morning that “The amazing performance by Cristiano Ronaldo has completely overturned the betting markets for the Ballon d’or 2013. Until last night, [Ronaldo] was second favourite behind Ribery, but his exhibition, and the extension of the voting, have been determinant.”
Messi-backers were not so happy — with Mundo Deportivo shouting ‘Escándolo Fifa’, and its journalist Francesc Aguilar [France Football’s voter in Spain] tweeting that “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 conspiracy theorists had a point. Far from Fifa being anti-Ronaldo, it had bent its own rules to make sure the Portugal captain won the game’s biggest personal award.
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