Friday 19 January 2018

Portugal ace pondering Ballon boycott over Blatter 'hairdresser' comment

FIFA chief faces humiliating ceremony snub as Ronaldo insists award proves nothing

Sepp Blatter
Sepp Blatter

Mark Ogden

Cristiano Ronaldo could humiliate Fifa president Sepp Blatter by boycotting the Ballon d'Or ceremony in Zurich in January, despite the surprise decision to extend the voting deadline for the award.

Ronaldo has emerged as favourite to be crowned the World Footballer of the Year, with Fifa's Ballon d'Or voting extension coinciding with the Real Madrid forward's stunning hat-trick in Portugal's World Cup play-off win against Sweden on Tuesday.

The move by Fifa to put the voting deadline back to November 29 and allow previous votes to be recast has been taken as a result of a "low turnout of votes" from international coaches, captains and international media.

It is understood, however, that Ronaldo is considering snubbing the presentation ceremony on January 13 in protest at perceived bias towards three-time winner Lionel Messi and recent comments by Blatter, who claimed that Ronaldo "spends more time at the hairdresser" when asked to compare the two players.

Blatter subsequently apologised for the comments, prompting a lukewarm acknowledgement of his contrition from Ronaldo, but the Portugal captain has done little to quell speculation in Madrid that he will stay away from Zurich, even if he is announced next month as being on the three-man shortlist to win the award.

When asked whether his per-formance in Stockholm was motivated by proving a point to Blatter, Ronaldo said: "I do not have to prove anything to anyone. I think I have come to show what I am in the last years, scoring 40-50 goals every season, it is there for anyone to see and it reflects the player I am. Am I the best in the world? I am not obsessed with it. I try to do my work, both in the squad and the club, and give answers on the pitch."

Ronaldo's claims for the Ballon d'Or were supported by his Portuguese team-mates, with Miguel Veloso saying: "He is a machine. This performance demonstrated once again his entire quality. It would be an injustice if Ronaldo was not the winner. He had nothing to prove in these two games because he has done an excellent job with the national team and his club."

It is likely to boil down to Messi versus Ronaldo once again this year and a tweet from Blatter following Portugal's victory in Sweden, where he congratulated Paulo Bento's team and Ronaldo, may prove significant. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

Promoted Links

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport