Ballon d’Or, the pinnacle when it comes to individual honors won’t have a recipient this year after France Football announced their intention to cancel the award for the year. The governing body came to the decision to honor the long break caused due to the coronavirus pandemic. The question that arises is, is it a legitimate reason? A strong enough reason to perhaps deny Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski his first Ballon d’Or, a fitting conclusion to a historic scoring spree season glistened with trophies?
Robert Lewandowski, arguably one of the best strikers to grace this decade ranked 8th on the 2019 Ballon d’Or rankings after his fourth successive season with over 40 goals to his name.
As the popular saying goes, “To be the best, you have got to beat the best”. The Polish striker took his game to another level this season with a sensational head start. He scored 10 goals in the first six matches itself and showed the world that he has the foot firmly on the accelerator.
The class remained and the consistency followed as Lewandowski scored a whopping 34 goals in the Bundesliga. He has a staggering lead in the race for the European Golden Shoe with Lionel Messi being the second candidate with 25 goals.
Lewandowski remained a force in the European circuit as well. He turned back the clock with a four-goal spree in the space of fifteen minutes against Red Star Belgrade. As things stand, he is the top scorer with 11 goals.
His contributions helped Bayern help themselves to a domestic double and also sail past their group stage in the Champions League by a record margin.
It is an insult to the player in a sense that contributions of this humongous scale go unnoticed or unrewarded. While there were plenty of runners for the elusive trophy, it is no mystery that Lewandowski was a clear favourite amongst the rest.
France Football’s decision leaves the players and the fans a bit puzzled with the reason not enough concrete with respect to the ultimate consequence.
While the Ballon d’Or’s value and legitimacy has gone a bit down with the fans due to the Lionel Messi-Cristiano Ronaldo duopoly or the questionable voting, but it is still the ultimate prize for any player on a personal level.
“For the first time in its history, which began in 1956, the Ballon d’Or will not be awarded in 2020, due to the lack of sufficient fair conditions.
If the season had not been resumed and abandoned halfway, the reasoning provided by the organization would be valid.
“Because of our approximately 220 jurors (men and women combined) distributed around the world, some may have been distracted or diverted from their observation due to other priorities and emergencies to manage.
The reasoning gets even more puzzling, word by word takes away the player’s hard work over the season. Yes, the players do get rewarded by the trophies that the team wins because of their contributions but adding Ballon d’Or to the resume is something different that no amount of trophies can fulfill. Even more to Lewandowski, who had the trophy in his sight after having to wriggle out of the shadows of Europe’s elite.
“We did not want to put an indelible asterisk on the prize list like “trophy won in exceptional circumstances due to the Covid-19 health crisis”. We will always prefer a small sprain to our history to a large scar.
The season was cut short for a brief period, yes. But were their achievements or hard work diminished? In retrospect, the players had to work even harder to get in shape and maintain their stamina for playing the entire duration of the match. Players like Lewandowski, despite those setbacks posed, managed to maintain the consistency en route to a stellar season, which won’t be rewarded.
For such exemplary perseverance, France football needs to give out the Ballon d’Or more than ever but it has chosen to go the safer alternative by not giving it altogether.
“The Ballon d’Or would have been decided over just three games: quarterfinal, semifinal, final,”
It is this obsession and the stranglehold that this “individual” award has over team trophies is one of the few things wrong with it. Barring Ligue 1 all of the domestic and European competitions would reach its conclusion.
In such a time, Robert Lewandowski can only curse his luck, pick himself up, dust himself off, and have another season of his dreams to turn the tide of the bias and voting to capture that elusive trophy.