Messis Controversial Ballon dOr

Messi’s Controversial Ballon d’Or

What La Pulga’s Win Says About the State of the Competition

On October 30th, the legend of Lionel Messi was further cemented into the record books. The little man from Argentina won his 8th Ballon d’Or, which is given every year to the best male footballer by the French magazine French Football. However, even as one of the greatest players in the history of the world game went up to receive yet another accolade to add to his already full trophy case, there were still calls of corruption and disagreement with the results of the award. 

By no stretch of the imagination did Messi have a bad season. The Argentinian star had scored 21 goals in 41 appearances for Paris Saint Germain during the year as well as scoring seven goals and three assists on Argentina’s historic World Cup run in 2022. He finished only second behind the Frenchman Kylian Mbappe in the competition for the Golden Boot of the World Cup. The most treasured win in the footballing community was the last feather in the hat for Messi, whose ultimate dream was to win the World Cup for Argentina. In the eyes of many, the World Cup win combined with his eighth and most likely final Ballon d’Or win was the last chapter in the epic battle for the title of the greatest men’s footballer of all time against Portuguese striker Cristiano Ronaldo. The legend of Messi’s story can not just be summed up through his Ballon D’Ors, but rather through his 3x Best FIFA Men’s Player, 2x UEFA Men’s Player of the Year, 9x La Liga Best Player, 12x Domestic League Champion, 4x Champions League Champion, and finally his 14x FIFA World XI awards. 

However, Messi wasn’t the only player who had an incredible season. Erling Haaland of Norway scored 36 goals in 35 matches in his inaugural Premier League season, breaking the record for the most goals scored ever in the league’s history. Not only was Haaland prolific domestically, but he was also successful in the Champions League. “The Terminator” collected 12 goals in 11 matches on the historic run by Manchester City to win their first Champions League. The Haaland train has yet to be stopped so far this season as well, as he has already bagged 18 goals in 20 games in all competitions. 

The problem with the numbers Haaland has put up in his unprecedented rise to the top is that he has been unable to provide a defining moment to truly establish his legend. While the City striker has scored many goals during these competitions, he has failed to score in any of the finals he has played in with the club. Haaland was scoreless during the 2022/2023 final vs. Inter Milan in Istanbul, despite the Sky Blues securing the victory in the end.  

The possible response to this criticism of the striker is that the overall talent of Manchester City’s squad has allowed the team not to rely on his goals to win big games. However, unfortunately for Haaland, he can’t control the country when he plays in international competitions. Haaland is a member of the Norwegian National Team, who last qualified for the World Cup in 1998, a quarter century ago. 

Many of CCES’s football fans in the community had thoughts about whether Messi deserved his 8th and final Ballon d’Or. Rodrigo Marques, class of ‘25 and captain of the CCES soccer team believed that “while Messi was deserving of it no doubt, Haaland was robbed. There’s nothing more a player can do in a year besides win the World Cup, which is nearly impossible for Haaland with the team that he plays for. He broke every record and won every trophy, yet they gave it to Messi because of one World Cup.”  William Mims ‘25 offered a more historical reasoning as to why he believed Messi didn’t deserve it this time around. “Personally, I think it is strange that Messi would win it this year when he didn’t win it in 2014 during a statistically better season. The award is no longer consistent.” 

Ultimately both players had incredible seasons worthy of the award. Manager Pep Guardiola, who has managed both Messi and Haaland in his long and storied career, echoed this sentiment.  Yet in the eyes of the footballing community, the questions on the validity of the Ballon d’Or will only continue to fester. 

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About the Contributor
Ciaran Greer, Editor in Chief
Runner, Singer, Writer, and believer in God.  A strong belief in supporting the working class and the Average American.