Controversy Surrounds Lionel Messi’s Ballon d’Or Wins: PSG Accused of Lobbying for Star Player

Controversy Surrounds Lionel Messi’s Ballon d’Or Wins: PSG Accused of Lobbying for Star Player

Some room in Lionel Messi’s house will have to be reserved to house only the individual trophies won by the Argentine in the sport where nothing can be won alone, but that is the world of football. At 36 years old, the player has won eight Ballon d’Ors, the most illustrious distinction that rewards the best in a calendar year. Just weeks ago he was on stage thanking those who voted for him as the most sublime of 2023, an act he hasn’t done since 2021.

In both years, Messi’s thanks were due to a prize that was given to him, in turn, in part due to achievements with the national team: winning the Copa América, his first title with the country, then the victory at the World Cup in Qatar. With dozens of goals, assists and examples of genius with the ball in the mix, the Argentine won his then seventh Ballon d’Or during the first of two seasons at Paris Saint-Germain. Now, French justice suspects that the club may have moved behind the scenes to guarantee the star’s award.

“Le Monde” and “Mediaparte” reported, on Saturday, that six current and former PSG directors are being investigated for allegedly having lobbied for Lionel Messi to be the winner of the trophy in 2021. The club’s president, Nasser Al-Khelaïfi, is one of those implicated in suspected crimes of corruption and influence peddling, and one of the schemes targeted by the French police supposed, in theory, favoring the Argentine’s victory in the Ballon d’Or through “gifts” given to the editor-in-chief of “France Football”. The magazine is responsible for awarding the prize.

The investigation, the newspapers write, suspects that PSG offered tickets for games and trips to Doha, Qatar, the country of Qatar Sports Investments, which owns the club, Pascal Ferré. In return, in addition to the alleged work for Messi to win the award, the journalist will have deleted several articles from the “France Football” website, including one that reported alleged illegal commissions paid in Javier Pastore’s transfer to the club in 2011. Pascal Ferré was responsible for organizing the voting and selection process for the Ballon d’Or.

Today he is the director of press and public relations for the PSG first team, a position for which he was hired in January 2023.

Lionel Messi won his seventh Ballon d’Or in 2021 with 22.8% of the votes, equivalent to 613 points. The runner-up was Robert Lewandowski, a Polish striker who scored 580, ahead of Jorginho, the organizing midfielder for Italy’s European champion that year, with 460 points – the best Portuguese was Cristiano Ronaldo, 6th ranked, with 178.

In total, the national team captain was distinguished five times (2008, 2013, 2014, 2016 and 2017) as the best player in the world for the trophy that made so many people enmity and insult each other due to a rivalry that, outside the control of the players, was taken to the extreme. Lionel Messi has eight Ballon d’Ors, won in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2019, 2021 and 2023.

2024-01-07 08:00:00
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