The director of France Football, Pascal Ferré, is silent on the identity of the next winner of the 2022 Ballon d’Or, who will be known this Monday, and in the face of Karim Benzema’s condition as favorite, he acknowledges that “Real Madrid knows how to orchestrate campaigns” to propel their players towards the award.
“Florentino Pérez orchestrates the campaigns well, tacitly, without drift, everything he does is authorized,” says Ferré in an interview with Agencia EFE.
The person in charge of the magazine that awards the prize since 1956 assures that the campaigns “do not make you win, but they can make you lose when there is a bad message or a bad gesture”.
“There are machines like Real Madrid’s that are very strong. Their intelligence is that they support a single player. For years it was Cristiano Ronaldo and now it is Karim Benzema. That prevents the votes from being dispersed, ”he assures.
“You know how this works. It is no coincidence if it is the club that has won it the most times”, says Ferré in the office he has occupied since 2005, dotted with shirts signed by players from all eras.
Ferré recalls that reputation off the pitch is also a criterion when it comes to awarding points, but he does not believe that the conviction for complicity in blackmail handed down against Benzema should be an obstacle for him to become the first Frenchman to win the award since Zinedine Zidane in 1998.
“I think that has already been taken into account by the juries, but I don’t think it is an essential element. The Ballon d’Or is not the Nobel Peace Prize, they have voted on eleven months of competition, ”she points out.
HE SAYS HE DIDN’T INSINUATE ANYTHING AGAINST REAL MADRID
Pascal Ferré assured that in his statements to the EFE Agency published this Friday there was not “the slightest insinuation against Real Madrid”, while he lamented “an unfortunate confusion”.
“I never had the slightest intention of making the slightest insinuation against Real Madrid,” he said.
“When I mentioned Real Madrid’s know-how in the search for the Ballon d’Or, I simply wanted to talk about their exemplary ability to mobilize every year to get to work with the goal of winning the most prestigious of trophies,” he added in a sent message. to EFE.
“At no time did I consider talking about something else or including the slightest hint,” he added.
Ferré lamented the “abusive interpretations” of his words, published three days before the winner of the 2022 edition is known.
The director of France Football considered it “obvious” that “if Real Madrid holds the Ballon d’Or record, it necessarily owes it above all to its titles and the galaxy of great players who have passed through it”.
“The Ballon d’Or, like Real Madrid, are two institutions that have gone hand in hand for a long time and that respect each other enormously. And I hope this lasts much longer, “he stressed.
“MESSI IS THE GOLDEN BALL”
For the first time in fifteen years, the Argentine Lionel Messi, winner of seven editions, is not among the candidates, “a gigantic event in the history of the award”, according to Ferré, who considers that “the Ballon d’Or is Messi and Messi is The gold ball”.
“His record is going to be very difficult to match, he is someone who embodies the Ballon d’Or well, because he combines individual and collective performance, but also a certain idea of the show and a long longevity”, he affirms.
He remembers the Argentine “tremendously excited” when he called him the last two times to announce that he was the winner.
“In 2019 he told me that he had forgotten the feeling of pleasure that came from winning it (after three years of the last one), he had realized that he missed it. In 2021 I had the impression that she was talking to a child, ”she recounts.
He also remembers Cristano Rolando’s emotion when he was announced in several editions and believes that the Portuguese “has not digested well staying behind his great rival”.
“It is a very important award for them. The Ballon d’Or is one of the few things that cannot be bought. That makes them humble in the face of these types of rewards, it makes them children, ”he adds.
Messi and Ronaldo “have starred in one of the most intense rivalries in the history of sport,” says Ferré, happy that the Ballon d’Or has contributed to feeding it, while considering that it will take time until a similar duel is repeated.
“There is a lot of talk about the rivalry between Mbappé and Haaland, but neither of them have won the Champions League. At Mbappé’s age, Messi already had two Ballon d’Ors. If they want to establish a similar rivalry, they have to start winning big trophies now. Messi and Ronaldo didn’t take that long,” he says.
Ferré is aware that the Ballon d’Or is not exempt from controversy “because everyone has their favourites”, but when he reviews the list of winners he believes that “there is no one who can dishonor the award”.
XAVI AND INIESTA, A SCAR
“I think there is no one left on that list. Clearly some names are missing. In my opinion there are three, the Pole Robert Lewandowski and the Spaniards Xavi Hernández and Andrés Iniesta”, he acknowledges.
“For me it is a big scar, because (Xavi and Iniesta) are two players that I place very high and that embody football as conceived by the Ballon d’Or. But in 2010 they had Messi in front of them and I think they paid that in that Spanish team, the votes were distributed among many names, which reduced their support”, he recalls.
He knows that for many Raúl González is another of those absent from the list of winners, but he believes that “he is one step below” and remembers that he never won the World Cup.
About Lewandowski, Ferré also regrets that the Pole did not win it in 2020, when he was the great favorite but France Football decided not to hand him over due to the pandemic.
“We did it out of a desire to be fair, not all the championships had stopped. Robert keeps telling me if I don’t regret it, but I think we did the right thing,” he notes.
For a few days, his phone has not stopped ringing. “Representatives, clubs, players,… they want to know if they have won, it is something inevitable”.
The 2022 winner already knows that he will embrace the golden trophy next Monday. Ferré has already gone through the usual ceremony of going to announce it in person at his home.
“We try to keep the secret as much as possible. Sometimes we dress up so that no one sees us arrive. And we tell the winner not to tell his wife or his children,” he notes.