Bayern fans everywhere gave a collective groan when France Football announced a week ago that they had decided not to award the coveted Ballon d’Or this year. Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski was widely regarded as the favorite to win it.
Bayern CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge shares that opinion and is going up to bat for his superstar striker. In a virtual press conference (ESPN), Rummenigge said, “Unfortunately France Football cancelled the Golden Ball which we are not very happy [with] and in the end it’s not very fair, not just Bayern but also for Robert Lewandowski who might have won.”
“I believe Robert Lewandowski is playing a fantastic season and he performed maybe the best season in his career.”
France Football claimed that it had decided to cancel the award because it could not guarantee fair competition across leagues. Uniquely among the top five leagues, France’s own Ligue 1 season was canceled and did not resume.
Rummenigge does not believe that justification is enough: “I believe it’s very important that in a season that, except the French league, [the other leagues] performed through to the end of the season, it has to be possible to give the Golden Ball to the best footballer in the world and of course, I believe in those circumstances Robert would have a good chance to win it in the first time in his career.”
But obviously Rummenigge himself has little leverage with the French football outlet. But he knows someone who might: “I may talk to [FIFA President] Gianni Infantino later and will try to convince him that he is convincing France Football — or that FIFA can organize a Ballon d’Or.”
The only catch is that FIFA and France Football parted ways in 2016 and no longer award the Ballon d’Or jointly. FIFA has replaced it with its “Best of” awards, but the ceremony planned for September 2020 has already been canceled. Perhaps Gianni can pull some strings.