Barcelona past and present on Ballon d’Or controversy

The news that the voting deadline for this year’s Ballon d’Or award has been extended, did not go down well in Barcelona, with figures form the past and present unhappy with the way the vote has been conducted.

Barcelona legend Hirsto Stoichkov, a former winner of the award (in its European Footballer of the Year incarnation), has criticised the role played by UEFA president Michel Platini, whom he accuses of campaigning for compatriot Franck Ribery.

“It’s a done deal; it makes me sick. Platini is a smooth operator and Ribéry is French and has won a lot of trophies,” said Stoichkov as the presentation of last season’s Golden Shoe to Barcelona striker Lionel Messi.

Stoichkov, clearly a man who holds grudges, especially against the French, then harked back to Bulgaria’s World Cup match win obver France in 1994.

“In ’94 they tried to kick us [Bulgaria] off the pitch and then there was the French referee against Spain. These things have to be said,” he continued.

Meanwhile, Barcelona president Sandro Rosell has hit out at FIFA’s ‘lobbying’ for Cristiano Ronaldo to depose Lionel Messi as perennial Ballon d’Or winner.

FIFA made the unprecedented move of extending the deadline for votes, as well as giving voters the option of changing their mind.

The move has been greeted with scepticism in Barcelona and is seen as a way of tilting the vote in favour of Ronaldo, after the Portugal striker attracted plaudits for his World Cup play-off hat-trick against Sweden on Tuesday.

However, Barca chief Rosell, is under no illusion over who he believes should claim the award.

“If all the lobbying is ignored, the Ballon d’Or will go to Messi,’ Rosell said at the Golden Shoe presentation.

“First I would vote for Messi. Second would be Messi and third, Messi. Then I would vote for Xavi and [Andres] Iniesta, and in sixth place, [Sergio] Busquets.”