30 players have been listed for the Ballon d’Or award. These players are usually selected by France Football, while the voting is done by group of international journalists with no more than one per country. The winner will be revealed on December 3 in Paris.
But out of the 30 nominees, there are only 2 African players. Senegal’s Sadio Mane and Egypt’s Mohamed salah.
In the history of this award, only one African has ever won it, and that is George Weah, way back in 1995. Since then, the award has continually eluded any other quality African player just like the World Cup. In fact since then, the award has been exchanged between South America and Europe.
Leads to the question: don’t we have any players worthy of recognition for this prestigious award in the continent? Let’s try to find out.
In December last year former South African player Benni McCarthy touched on this subject. He told claimed that there is a conspiracy against African players for global individual laurels because they’re not Box Office material.
The former Ajax and Porto star told BBC Sport that some African greats were ignored because they couldn’t attract magazine or newspaper sales.
McCarthy claimed that our players are not eye-catching in Europe because organizers of such awards are always on the look for the more lucrative, worthy players that will sell more newspapers, sell more magazines and be more of attraction.
He said: “Yaya Toure has been but never been recognized, Didier Drogba has been there; never been recognized, Samuel Eto’o has been there; never been recognized, Jay Jay Okocha has been there; never been recognized, Nwankwo Kanu…I can go on, the list can go on but we’ve not been recognized.”
To him the awards are about business and marketing and not recognising top performers.
But ultimately the general opinion is that Ballon d’Or is actually about top performers. And that is why our men and women miss out for the accolades, even with the long list of top performing players.
Some experts argue that the major impediments African players, beside their performance at club level, face is the bleak record at the national team level, where African teams do not do well at international competitions, particularly the FIFA World Cup.
Officials saddled with the task of selecting the best player in the world use the performance at club and national team levels to pick their nominee, thus African players are usually overlooked.
That being the case, before we can see another African player step on the top podium, we’ve got to fix our domestic game in order and have exceptionally great footballers winning trophies both at club and international level.