Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Messi, Rapinoe expected to take Ballon d’Or honours



Messi, Rapinoe expected to take Ballon d’Or honours

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Lionel Messi and Megan Rapinoe are expected to win the big prizes at Monday's Ballon d'Or ceremony. AFP

Messi, Rapinoe expected to take Ballon d’Or honours

The biggest names in world football will descend on Paris on Monday for the 2019 Ballon d’Or ceremony, with Lionel Messi and USA women’s World Cup superstar Megan Rapinoe tipped to leave with the honours.

It would be an enormous shock if Rapinoe did not depart the Chatelet Theatre with the women’s prize as she returns to the country where she was the driving force on and off the field for the US as they retained their title.

The suspense surrounds the identity of the men’s winner, 12 months after Croatia’s Luka Modric claimed the crown thanks to his exploits in dragging his country to the World Cup final and winning the Champions League with Real Madrid.

That ended a decade in which Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo had won the Ballon d’Or five times each, but the smart money now is on the Barcelona man claiming number six.

There are 30 nominees in total for the prize, organised by France Football magazine and voted for by 180 journalists from around the world.

Among the names is Ronaldo, as well as several of the stars of the Liverpool side who won the Champions League, chief among them Dutch defender Virgil van Dijk.

At one point he looked like the favourite, but Messi already pipped him to Fifa’s The Best title in September.

The 32-year-old top-scored in La Liga last season with 36 goals as Barcelona won the title. He did not have a great Copa America with Argentina, but his genius is undeniable.

“If you give the Ballon d’Or to the best player of this generation then you should give it always to Lionel Messi. That’s how it is,” admitted Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp.

“But if you give it to the best player of last season, then it was Virgil van Dijk. I don’t know exactly how it will work but that is how I see it.”

The value of individual honours in football is debatable, and the timing unsatisfactory, coming midway through the European club season.

Yet surely nobody could suggest Rapinoe would not be a deserving winner of just the second women’s Ballon d’Or, an award voted for by a panel of 48 journalists.

Norway’s Ada Hegerberg won it in 2018 but will not retain her title after missing the World Cup.

Among the stars of that tournament to be nominated are England’s Lucy Bronze, Netherlands striker Vivianne Miedema, Australia’s Sam Kerr and the USA trio of Alex Morgan, Rose Lavelle and Tobin Heath.

However Rapinoe, the 34-year-old feminist icon and outspoken critic of US President Donald Trump, should add this honour to those of Golden Boot winner for top scorer and Golden Ball for best player at the World Cup.

Even her supposed rivals seem to be rooting for her.

“She does lots of things off the pitch, but I think she is the favourite to win the Ballon d’Or.

“Mainly down to her performances during the World Cup,” Bronze told France Football.

MOST VIEWED

  • ‘Education’ a priority traffic-law penalty

    A top National Police official on June 21 neither rejected nor confirmed the authenticity of a leaked audio message, which has gone viral on social media, on a waiver of fines for a number of road traffic-related offences. General Him Yan, deputy National Police chief in

  • Pursat Ford assembly plant opens

    The Kingdom’s first Ford assembly plant was inaugurated on June 16 in Pursat province amid rising demand for brand-new vehicles among Cambodians. The facility is seen as a game changer for the domestic automobile industry, which could bring a wave of investors seeking to cash

  • Siem Reap’s $18M zoo said to educate public, help wildlife

    Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium Co Ltd has invested $18 million in a zoo in Siem Reap province, which will be opened in October to educate and promote animal conservation as well as attract national and international tourists. Currently, the Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium is building the

  • Volunteer scheme to foster ‘virtuous’ humanitarian spirit

    A senior education official said volunteer work contributes to solidarity and promotes a virtuous humanitarian spirit among the youth and communities. Serei Chumneas, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, made the comment during the opening of a training programme called “

  • $50B infrastructure plan en route

    The government’s upcoming $50 billion,10-year infrastructure master plan will provide tremendous investment opportunities for domestic and foreign entities, transport experts and economists say. Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol revealed the plan to Japanese ambassador to Cambodia Masahiro Mikami on June 15. At

  • Chinese firms unveil preliminary results on metro, monorail for capital

    Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol and representatives from China Road and Bridge Corp (CRBC) and its parent company, the state-owned China Communications Construction Co Ltd (CCCC), met on June 24 for talks on results of the firms’ preliminary study on a potential metro