Skip to main content

Ballon d'Or U-turn puts Ronaldo in driving seat

November 20, 2013 -- Updated 2356 GMT (0756 HKT)
The Portuguese could be officially named the world's best footballer for the first time since 2008 after a stunning year in which he has scored 66 goals in 55 games. He finished top scorer in last season's Champions League and has plundered 32 goals from his opening 20 games of the new term. The Portuguese could be officially named the world's best footballer for the first time since 2008 after a stunning year in which he has scored 66 goals in 55 games. He finished top scorer in last season's Champions League and has plundered 32 goals from his opening 20 games of the new term.
HIDE CAPTION
Cristiano Ronaldo
Lionel Messi
Franck Ribery
Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Neymar
...?
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • FIFA surprisingly extend voting for Ballon d'Or by two weeks
  • New deadline means Ronaldo's World Cup hat-trick can now be taken into account
  • Franck Ribery had been favorite to win award for various critics prior to unexpected change

(CNN) -- First he mocked him, then he praised him and now FIFA President Sepp Blatter has handed Cristiano Ronaldo his best chance of winning his second World Footballer of the Year award.

For in an unexpected move, the world governing body extended the deadline for national team coaches and captains, as well as participating journalists, to vote for their top three players of 2013.

The initial date had been last Friday, just hours after the first legs of the European play-offs had ended, but the closing date to vote for this year's Ballon d'Or winner is now November 29.

Read: Ronaldo hat-trick fires Portugal to World Cup

The reason given for the delay has been the 'low turnout of votes' so far.

With Lionel Messi, who has won the last four crowns, out injured, Ronaldo will never have a better chance to impress a panel for an award where form at voting time often counts as much as previous exploits in the year.

A different side of Cristiano Ronaldo
Messi claims fourth Ballon d'Or
Exclusive: What makes Ibrahimovic tick?
CNN FC: Champions League final
Pele on Neymar and Mourinho

Fresh from his stunning hat-trick which fired Portugal to the World Cup when eliminating Sweden 4-2 on aggregate (with Ronaldo scoring all his nation's goals in the tie), the Real Madrid star may begin to feel that his recent row with FIFA is beginning to turn his way.

Last month, Blatter was involved in an extraordinary impersonation of the Portuguese star while addressing the famous Oxford Union in England, during which he claimed Ronaldo spent "a lot more at the hairdresser's" than his Barcelona rival Messi.

Ronaldo swiftly hit back, writing on his Facebook page how the video showed "the respect and consideration that FIFA has for me, my club and my country. Much is explained now."

Read: Ronaldo criticizes Blatter's behavior

On Tuesday night, Blatter -- who has been watching his words carefully since -- was effusive in his praise for the former Manchester United player's match-winning display in Sweden.

"Fantastic performance by @Cristiano," the Swiss tweeted.

Hours later, it was announced that the voting had been extended, meaning Ronaldo's stunning Solna display can now be taken into account.

Quite what France international Franck Ribery makes of it all is anyone's guess, with the Bayern Munich star having been tipped to win the award when voting was thought to have ended last week.

He is now behind the Portuguese in the running according to widespread opinion, as is Messi -- with the Argentinian seemingly a victim of his own staggeringly high performances of recent years.

Read: Can anyone dethrone Messi?

Sweden's Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Brazilian Neymar are outsiders to win the award, with FIFA having named a 23-man list of players to be considered for the prize in October.

The three-man shortlist for the award will be announced next month, with the winner of the 2013 Ballon d'Or set to be unveiled at an awards ceremony in Zurich in January.

Read: Qatar 'rife with migrant worker abuse'

In a separate development, FIFA announced on Wednesday that "fair working conditions must be introduced quickly, consistently and on a sustained basis in Qatar," the 2022 World Cup host nation.

The statement followed a meeting in Zurich between Blatter and the International Trade Union Confederation, and came shortly after an Amnesty International report suggested that worker abuse is rife in Qatar's construction sector.

In response to Amnesty's allegations, the director of the Human Rights Department at Qatar's Foreign Ministry said laws are in place to protect workers from mistreatment.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
The U.S. government recognizes Kosovo, as do most European states, but getting football's ruling bodies to play ball has proved harder.
June 4, 2014 -- Updated 1504 GMT (2304 HKT)
National heroes don't always belong to one country. Ask France's World Cup hero Patrick Vieira, who is rediscovering his roots.
CNN's John Sinnott on the quiet Cambridge graduate behind Liverpool's resurgent campaign.
May 30, 2014 -- Updated 1519 GMT (2319 HKT)
They are the dispossessed -- stateless, and unrecognized by football's ruling body. But these teams will still play at their own World Cup.
Louis van Gaal will be a perfect fit for Manchester United the club, business and brand, says CNN's Patrick Snell.
May 19, 2014 -- Updated 1924 GMT (0324 HKT)
There's a new force in Spanish football -- and Atletico Madrid's ascendance is sharply contrasted by the fall from power of Barcelona.
May 13, 2014 -- Updated 1206 GMT (2006 HKT)
Rubber bullets, drones and FBI-trained riot police. Welcome to Brazil's 2014 World Cup -- will protests overshadow football's showpiece event?
May 9, 2014 -- Updated 1318 GMT (2118 HKT)
The former England international, who famously kicked a banana off the pitch 27 years ago, says education is the key to tackling racism.
May 7, 2014 -- Updated 1200 GMT (2000 HKT)
Of course not. But former Fulham owner Mohamed Al Fayed seems to think the removal of Michael Jackson's statue was a very "bad" idea.
May 7, 2014 -- Updated 1603 GMT (0003 HKT)
BARCELONA, SPAIN - APRIL 01: Neymar of Barcelona celebrates his goal during the UEFA Champions League Quarter Final first leg match between FC Barcelona and Club Atletico de Madrid at Camp Nou on April 1, 2014 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
The Brazilian star's first season in Spain may have spluttered along, but the 22-year-old says he'll be firing on all cylinders at the World Cup.
April 30, 2014 -- Updated 1715 GMT (0115 HKT)
Former Soviet footballer Sergei Baltacha traveled from the land of the hammer and sickle to join The Tractor Boys and in doing so broke new ground.
April 29, 2014 -- Updated 0931 GMT (1731 HKT)
Brazil's Dani Alves arrived at Barcelona from Sevilla in 2008 and he has gone on to make over 180 appearances for the club.
Villarreal football supporter who threw a banana at Barcelona's Dani Alves during league match handed a life ban by the La Liga club.
ADVERTISEMENT