The 2012 Ballon D’Or – Messi The Magnificent… But Not The Magnanimous

As far as I know, about the only angle not taken on Luis Suarez’s handball for Liverpool at Mansfield in the FA Cup last Sunday is that “Lionel Messi would never do that.” Messi as latter-day saint is a theory familiar to viewers of Sky Sports’ La Liga coverage. Their commentators, Gerry Armstrong especially, eulogise over his goals and his attitude: the way he thanks team-mates profusely and immediately and doesn’t make “a meal” of being fouled, or dive or tackle two-footed. And, of course, he would never, EVER deliberately handle the ball to score a winning goal against plucky non-league opposition in a cup competition. Not like that Luis Suarez. But Messi’s beatification was put back a bit by this week’s FIFA Ballon d’Or vote – which resulted in Messi becoming men’s world player of the year for the fourth consecutive year. Not that the little maestro didn’t deserve his ball of gold. Had the award been for ‘player of the season 2011/12,’ Cristiano Ronaldo would have been the worthy winner after his brilliant performances during Real Madrid’s La Liga triumph, including some hitherto hidden inspirational teamwork which steadied some real Real wobbles prior to their Nou Camp victory in March. But it wasn’t. So, he wasn’t. However, it would have been in-keeping with Messi’s public persona for him to have acknowledged Ronaldo’s contribution to the year by...

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