When FIFA’s Ballon d’Or gets awarded for the first time next January, someone in Barcelona’s locker room will be added to the contentious list of the world’s best player. Andres Iniesta, Xavi Hernandez, and Lionel Messi have been shortlisted by FIFA as the three potential winners, and while neither of the three is a surprise inclusion, there is a shocking exclusion, that of Wesley Sneijder.
Only a few months ago, the Dutchman was being touted as a runaway winner, having guided Inter Milan to an historic treble, as well as his country to the world cup final, where a Spanish team conducted by Barcelona’s brilliant duo defeated him. Sneijder’s fall from grace has been precipitous, but perhaps not all that surprising given his club team’s recent poor run of form. In a sport where the question “what have you done for me lately?” takes on an increased significance, the award unfortunately applies to the calendar year rather than the actual season. Thus, everything that Sneijder did during the first half of Inter’s historic season doesn’t count, while everything he hasn’t been doing since September, does. But what about his tremendous world cup and Champions league campaigns? Well, those were moths ago, and with Barcelona’s current butchering of all opponents on the backs of the aforementioned triumvirate, easily forgotten.
This dissonance between the award and the actual season has been a recurring problem for FIFA, but like with so many other things, soccer’s unblemished governing body will reluctantly change. That is, unless some of soccer’s more prestigious writers start voicing their disapproval, like bestselling author, and tweeter extraordinaire, Grant Wahl, who has publicly alluded to the problem on Twitter.