Asking the women’s Ballon d’Or winner to ‘twerk, placing Messi 5th in the final list and voting for Karim Benzema as the best player in the world – The 2018 Ballon d’Or ceremony took the term ‘baffling’ to a whole new level.
On 3 December 2018, Luka Modric ended the ten-year-long duopoly of Cristiano Ronaldo and Leo Messi to win the Ballon d’Or. In the process, he became the oldest winner of the award beating the 2006 winner, Fabio Cannavaro, by ten days; the first Croatian player to win the award and also the first winner to have ever played for Tottenham.
The final list was decided based on the votes from journalists of 176 countries. Each journalist ranked five players from the final list of 23 players with six points going to the first placed player, four to the second, three to third, two to the fourth and one to the fifth.
Journalists from thirteen countries got their votes in the exact order as the eventual top 5. However, as always, there were some truly baffling decisions.
Karim Benzema voted as the best the best player by the Central African Republic
There is no doubt that Karim Benzema is a good player. He even scored in the Champions League final (courtesy of Loris Karius) but he didn’t warrant a place in the Top 23 of the Ballon d’Or 2018 as he scored only 17 goals in 48 games in 2018.
However, the correspondent of the Central African Republic deemed him worthy of receiving six points. It was also the only vote he received from 176 countries. The journalist ranked Neymar, Mohamed Salah, Cristiano Ronaldo and Mario Mandzukic second to fifth in the same order with no place for the eventual winner Luka Modric!
Leo Messi ranked third by Argentine journalist
Salah was voted the best player by the correspondent from Egypt and Ronaldo was voted the best by the correspondent from Portugal. One would imagine that the correspondent from Argentina would vote for Messi as the best in the world but the Barcelona man was placed only third by his fellow countryman with Antoine Griezmann and Raphael Varane placed first and second respectively. Interestingly, the journalist from Portugal put Messi in second place.
Serbian journalist votes for Luka Modric
Serbia and Croatia share an intense rivalry but the journalist from Serbia didn’t let that stand in the way of his decision for the best player in the world. He voted for Modric as the best player in the world. His remaining votes went to Griezmann, Hazard, Salah and Neymar.
Sri Lankan journalist votes for four Premier League players but there is no Mo Salah
The journalist from Sri Lanka named Eden Hazard as the best player in the world which is understandable to an extent. However, he named Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino in second, Paul Pogba in third, Ronaldo in fourth and Harry Kane in fifth. How he came up with this list is incomprehensible.
Five players receive one first-place vote including Thibaut Courtois
Luka Modric, Cristiano Ronaldo, Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe, Lionel Messi, Mohamed Salah and Raphael Varane received three or more first-place votes and Eden Hazard received two first-place votes. In addition, five other players received first place-votes from journalist including Karim Benzema as previously mentioned.
However, Benzema isn’t the only truly baffling choice among these five players. While Grenada voted for Sergio Aguero, St Kitts and Nevis for Neymar and Vanuatu for Harry Kane; Kyrgyzstan surprised everyone by giving their first-place vote to *drum rolls* – Thibaut Courtois! Kyrgyzstan’s other votes went to Salah, Modric, Mbappe and Ronaldo.