Friday, 23 March 2007

Is the Ballon d'Or Biased?

Hi there,
Mark here. Myself and JJ were talking yesterday about the fact that only 5 players based in England had won the Ballon d'Or in its 50 year history. So, to check for bias, I picked the period 1977 – 1985 - of the nine European cups, English clubs won 7 and were the losing finalists in 1.

The Ballon d’Or winners 1976 – 1985, the only Englishman to win it was Kevin Keegan twice in ’78 & ’79. Keegan played for Hamburg. No English based player won it.

Of the 50 awards, only 5 went to English based players.
4 of those awards were in the period 1956 – 1968.
Since then, Only Michael Owen has won it, largely for one performance against Argentina(it this was Wikipedia, it would say 'citation needed'!)

1977 – Allan Simonsen

Mönchengladbach won it's third Bundesliga title in a row, and reached the final of the 1977 European Cup. Simonsen scored to level the game at 1-1, but Mönchengladbach eventually lost 3-1 to Liverpool. He was subsequently named the 1977 "European Footballer of the Year", as the first Danish player. The race for the award was tight, and Simonsen squeezed past Kevin Keegan by three points and Michel Platini by four points to win the prestigious prize.

1978/79 – Kevin Keegan
In ’76 Liverpool won the League and UEFA Cup (Keegan scored in both legs of the final)
In ’77 Liverpool won the League and European Cup (was fouled for a penalty in the final)
Why did he not win it before Hamburg??

1980/81 – Karl Heinz Rumminege
W. German League Winner with Bayern Munich(1980, 1981)
Won Euro 1980 and reached final of World Cup 1982

1982 – Paulo Rossi
Was banned for 2 years up to the World Cup, scored a hat-trick in the round-robin, 2 in the semi, and 1 in the final.

1983-85 Michel Platini

Capocannoniere (top scorer) in Italian championship (16 goals)
European Footballer of the Year
Capocannoniere (top scorer) in Italian championship (20 goals)
European Championship player of the tournament
European Championship top goalscorer (9 goals)
European Footballer of the Year
Capocannoniere (top scorer) in Italian championship (18 goals)
European Cup top scorer (7 goals)
European Footballer of the Year

Now, my analysis:

1983-85 – Platini was the best player in the world, a deserved winner

1982 Villa won European cup – Rossi won Ballon d’Or
Key players in this Villa side included Tony Morley, Gordon Cowans and Dennis Mortimer. – not exactly big names....

1981 – Rumminege, Pool won Euro Cup
Liverpool players:
Clemence, Neal, A.Kennedy, Thompson, R.Kennedy, Hansen, Dalglish, Lee, Johnson, McDermott, Souness - all good players, maybe Daglish or Souness had a shout?

1980 Rumminege, Forest won Euro Cup
Trevor Francis played well that season for Forest but didn’t play in the final because of injury

1979 – Keegan, Forest won Euro Cup
Trevor Francis scored in the final to win the game

1978 – Keegan, Liverpool won Euro Cup
Daglish, Souness and others starred

1977 – Simonsen, Liverpool won Euro Cup
Keegan starred

To sum up my brief analysis, the stats are inconclusive, so please judge for yourself.

My own biased thoughts are - English football is seen as less technical by continental Europeans, it seems to me that Keegan only won it because he moved to Germany.

I only analysed a small section of data, but the winners are generally from teams that have done well in internation competition - Rossi 82, Rumminege, 80, Platini 84, and it makes sense that a higher weighting is given to those competitions

I'm very interested to hear your thoughts on this, so please leave a comment below or email


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