By: Adrian Jacobs
The Ballon d’Or award honors the best player in the soccer community worldwide every year. Players who scored the most goals, provided the most assists and/or had the strongest defending are usually the ones to win. This year, Lionel Messi, notably one of the greatest soccer players of all time, won his 7th Ballon d’Or, and some people couldn’t believe it.
Although Lionel Messi helped Barcelona to Copa del Rey glory back in April and led Argentina to their first Copa America trophy in 2021, Robert Lewandowski, a striker for Bayern Munich, was the expected winner. The Polish forward had been the favorite to collect the Ballon d’Or back in 2020, but France Football decided it was best not to hand out the award due to the current COVID-19 situation. Lewandowski won more trophies and scored 23 more goals for club and country than Messi, but still fell 33 votes short. The final voting count ended with 613 votes for Messi and 580 votes for Lewandowski, one of the closest calls in Ballon d’Or history.
After winning the best player award last in 2019, Messi was astonished to have won consecutively. In his ceremony speech at Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris he commented, “It’s incredible to be here again. Two years ago I thought it was the last time. Winning the Copa América was the key.” Expressing his respect for the runners-up, Messi spoke to the Polish star, “I think that you deserve your Ballon d’Or,” Messi said. “Last year everyone was in agreement that you were the winner and I think that France Football should give you the Ballon d’Or that you deserve, and you should have it since you earned it and you won it last year. Hopefully, France Football could deliver it to you and you can have it in your home. You were the rightful winner [last year]. It couldn’t happen because of the pandemic, but I think you should also have it in your home.”
Just weeks later, Lewandowski finally broke silence and responded with his true feelings about Messi’s words, saying, “I would like his statement to be honest, not just empty words,” He clearly was upset and sad with the result, believing Messi should have acknowledged that his accomplishments were more worthy.
Jorginho, an Italian midfielder for Chelsea, came in third for the Ballon d’Or. Many believed he had high chances to win the award by winning the most recent Champions League with his club and Euro 2020 with Italy. With only 460 votes, Jorginho was far from winning the award, raising people’s suspicions of a rigged system even more.