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The Ballon d'Or: Finding the most non-popularity votiest ballot in the bunch

Nobody likes a popularity contest. So which voter best personified the anti-popularity spirit!?

David Ramos

In case you have been living under a rock for the last 12 hours, Cristiano Ronaldo won the Ballon d'Or for something. I'm not quite sure for what, but he beat Franck Ribery so it must have been something special. Probably wasn't though.

We all know it and we all say it. It's fundamentally a popularity contest.The Ballon d'Or is voted on by national team captains and national team coaches from around the world and it was evident for months before voting began ( i.e. since Franck Ribery won the UEFA Player of the Year award) that it was going to come down to a contest between Ronaldo, Ribery, and some little Argentinian no one on the planet has heard of.  But what about those who bucked the trend? In this I try to find the most non-popularity vote in the entire bunch of votes. This is the methodology.

Step 1: Copy .pdf file from Internet

Step 2: Copy text to Excel file

Step 3: Get angry and curse when the data formats as purely text with no cell divides presenting what amounts to a minor inconvenience

Step 4: Perform whiz-bang computer magic and eliminate all voters that voted for one of Ribery, Ronaldo, or Messi


Wow, that was easy.

Let's add some additional clauses.

Step 5: Remove all votes where a coach or player voted for a teammate or player they worked with this year because that's playing favorites and favoritism is a symptom of popularity contests.

Bye Cesare Prandelli! Bye Marc Wilmots!

We now have a grand total of 6 votes to parse:

Vote 1 Xavi Andrea Pirlo Thomas Müller
Vote 2 Andres Iniesta Andrea Pirlo Edinson Cavani
Vote 3 Andres Iniesta Zlatan Ibrahimovic Phillip Lahm
Vote 4 Schweinsteiger Andrea Pirlo Mesut Ozil
Vote 5 Edinson Cavani Andrea Pirlo Xavi
Vote 6 Arjen Robben Andrea Pirlo Neymar

Let's take them one at a time:

Vote 1 - He voted for Xavi #1 for Ballon d'Or. Sorry, life's about more than passing. No need to go any farther.

Vote 2 - Iniesta. Respectable choice. He's been a solid performer for Barcelona for years. Pirlo. Good choice. Perhaps a few years late but still one of the best pure playmakers in the world. Edinson Cavani. Probably the most complete striker on the planet in a neck and neck race with Lewandowski. Good dark horse choice. This ballot is strong.

Vote 3 - Iniesta. See above. Ibrahimovic. Any voter who places Ibrahimovic top 3 and not at #1 is asking for a world of hurt. Good hipster choice mentality. Phillip Lahm. I'm glad this voter recognized the role Bayern Munich captain's played in last season's treble. Another strong ballot.

Vote 4 - Schweinsteiger. The world's most complete defensive midfielder is a strong starting choice(and statement!) in a time where the role is ever more important. Pirlo. Looking more promising. Mesut Ozil. One of the most criminally underrated central midfielders in football. Darkest of the dark hose options. We've got a leader

Vote 5 - Cavani. Not certain he's #1 but going dark horse to start is promising. Pirlo. Good, but your dark horseyness is slipping. Xavi. Oops. You're done. Good start but weak finish.

Vote 6 - Arjen Robben. Nice to see the Dutchmen getting some love after putting together some of the most dominant performances of his career in the last 9 months. Pirlo. Looking good. Neymar. Sorry. Try again. Picking the up and coming marketing heir to Ronaldo is a sure fire way to invalidate your ballot in this anti-popularity contest.

I'm pretty sure you can guess which vote wins.

Vote 4 from Bahrain's head coach Anthony Hudson! Come on down! You're the winner! Here are some interesting facts about our winner:

1) He was born in Seattle. Suck it. ( I did not know this until after I picked this vote, I swear)

2) Harry Redknapp once called him "a young Jose Mourinho" which coming from Redknapp I'm not sure if that's an insult or a compliment

3) Lead the Bahrain U23's to the U23 Gulf of Nations Cup before being appointed coach of Bahrain. The Bahrain senior team are ranked 110th in the world.

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