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FIFA defend Ballon d'Or voting extension

ESPN staff
November 22, 2013 « FA to make friendly World Cup plea | Chartbeat test »
Ronaldo's World Cup play-off heroics have strengthened his Ballon d'Or chances © Getty Images
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FIFA General Secretary Jerome Valcke has told L'Equipe world football's governing body has "nothing to hide" by extending the voting deadline for the Ballon d'Or.

National team captains and coaches, as well as select media representatives, should have had their votes registered with FIFA by November 15, but it was announced on Tuesday they now have until November 29 to decide who should win football's biggest individual prize for 2013.

FIFA released a statement saying the decision to extend the deadline was taken on Friday morning before voters were notified on Tuesday morning.

However, the delay has caused a stir in France in particular with it seemingly favouring Cristiano Ronaldo following his spectacular showing in the World Cup play-off win over Sweden in which the Real Madrid man scored all four of Portugal's goals, including a hat-trick in Tuesday evening's second leg.

"If we decided to extend the deadline, it's simply because we didn't have - to our mind - enough votes. We have always said that we wanted to have 75% of the votes," Valcke said.

"The Ballon d'Or has to be representative of a credible opinion. Last year, we had more than 80%. There's nothing to hide. There's no manipulation, no opportunity to interfere with the procedure nor the result of the vote, which is watched over by a solicitor."

"The Ballon d'Or is a purely sporting event. The votes come from three totally different sectors. We don't have any preference."

Ronaldo's display overshadowed that of Franck Ribery - who is among the frontrunners for the award following last season's treble with Bayern Munich - who did not particularly shine in France's own play-off triumph against Ukraine.

Ronaldo's one-man-stand was also to the detriment of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who scored twice in Solna on Tuesday, but still found himself out of the limelight. However, Valcke insisted his country's failure to reach next summer's finals in Brazil would not necessarily rule the Paris Saint-Germain star out of the reckoning.

"If the Ballon d'Or has had an exceptional season, he may well not be qualified for the World Cup. A player doesn't qualify his team on his own. If his team isn't there, it's not necessarily his fault."

The honour will be presented on January 13 in Zurich, but speaking to RMC, 1994 Ballon d'Or winner Hristo Stoichkov said the award should be judged on a season-by-season basis, rather than a calendar year.

"The leagues are played between August and May. So, when it's finished, the prize should be attributed in June," said Stoichkov.

"With the current format, people get it wrong and don't reward a player for a season."

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