Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Ballon d’Or and making it truly global

This appears on ABS-CBN's website.

The Ballon d’Or and making it truly global
by rick olivares

Cristiano Ronaldo has been named winner of the 2013 Ballon d’Or award. It is the second time in his career that the Portuguese winger has won the coveted award. The first was in 2008 when he was still playing for Manchester United. The 2013 award is his first with Real Madrid.

There are some who feel that Lionel Messi should have won it for a fourth consecutive time given his exploits and Barcelona winning another La Liga title (one that Real Madrid was unable to defend). There are others who feel that Franck Ribery, that talented Frenchman playing for Bayern Munich, should have been given the nod since the German powerhouse team pretty much won everything.

The Ballon d’Or is simply for the best footballer in the world. While football is a team sport and any success will rely with the other 10 teammates on the field, the coach as well as the reserves.

There is the World Club Championship, the Euros and such and of course, the World Cup to determine the best teams. The Ballon d’Or is for the best player. It is a democratic award given that players, coaches and media have a say who brings home this prestigious award.

Nevertheless, my concern about this award is that it is open to too much interpretation. The Premier League, La Liga, Serie A and Bundesliga are shown pretty much everywhere. While they are arguably the best leagues in the world with players from all over the world playing in them, are the finalists truly representative of the best?

Maybe to make it truly the best player in the world the football federations from the five different continents nominate a couple of players representative from their region. Maybe it’s time to take into account more stats other than goals scored or saves. Completed passes, tackles, or even defensive stops should also be officially taken as stats. How was Fabio Cannavaro voted as winner in 2006? Because of one World Cup?

Is the voting body truly representative from the world? The voters should be duly accredited media persons and not just anyone. They simply cannot cast anonymous votes in order to determine if the system is flawed (for example will the Asian football writers vote for Asians only or be open minded).

While goal scoring is always more important or even sexier than a tackle how about the guy who keeps feeding you the ball? While everyone is aware of what Xavi or Iniesta can do because of Messi’s brilliance, they are – can you believe this – bypassed? How many of those goals scored by CR7 and Messi were solo sorties? How may came off passes by their midfielders?

This isn’t to denigrate the accomplishments of Ronaldo or Messi. I remain fans of both. Expanding the statistics would make the voting more sensible. And the Ballon d’Or winner more deserving.

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