13
Jan

The oddest ballots cast for 2013 Ballon d’Or

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Arguably more exciting than the actual announcement of the FIFA Ballon d’Or winner is the immediate release of the full voting results. Because every year, some of the ballots cast by the national team coaches, captains, and media members are downright laughable, like they don’t even know their votes are made public.

This year turned out to be one of the closest races ever. Cristiano Ronaldo (1,365 points) edged out Lionel Messi (1,205) and Franck Ribery (1,127), as all three were separated by less than 250 points, the equivalent of 50 first-place votes. The voting could have been even closer, too, were it not for some ridiculous ballots among the 541 voters.

Without further ado, here are the most bizarre findings:

  • Of course, the finalists who had a vote chose not to pick their rivals. Ronaldo’s votes: Radamel Falcao, Gareth Bale, Mesut Ozil.
  • Messi’s votes: Andres Iniesta, Xavi, Neymar. Hmmm, wonder why?
  • Georgia captain Jaba Kankava has not heard of Messi, Ronaldo or Ribery. His top three were: Iniesta, Andrea Pirlo, Edinson Cavani.
  • Ethiopia captain Degu Debebe Gebreyes’ choices: Xavi, Pirlo, Thomas Muller. Also interesting.
  • Yaya Toure received three nods for Player of the Year, from Samuel Eto’o, Didier Drogba and Mauritania captain Dominique Da Silva.
  • Bhutan has a lot of love for the Germans. Team captain Passang voted Mesut Ozil for Player of the Year, while coach Dorji Khandu voted for Thomas Muller.
  • Where’s the D? China coach Fu Bo and Madagascar captain Tahina Randrianarisoa voted for Thiago Silva. Mozambique captain Ivan Dario and Israel coach Eli Gutman for Philipp Lahm.
  • No bias at all: Italy’s Gigi Buffon and Claudio Prandelli both voted for Andrea Pirlo. San Marino captain Andy Selva did, too.
  • Must be the money! New Zealand coach Ricky Herbert picked Gareth Bale as his Ballon d’Or winner.
  • Media member Geniy Tulegenov of Kazakhstan liked two Bayern teammates ahead of Ribery, who he voted third: Arjen Robben (1st) and Thomas Muller (2nd).

If you think we missed some, you can look over the full list of votes here.

Photo provided by Action Images.

13
Jan

FIFPro World XI consists exclusively of Bayern, PSG, Real and Barca players

imageLast year, for reasons we’re still trying to comprehend, every single member of the FIFPro World XI came out of La Liga. This time around, there thankfully was a little more diversity, though some will undoubtedly still complain over an apparent La Liga bias amongst the players who voted.

The biggest gripe will probably come over the inclusion of Xavi — over the likes of Bastian Schweinsteiger or Arturo Vidal — who for his standards experienced a down year, and was completely taken apart by Bayern Munich’s midfield in last season’s Champions League.

Liverpool fans, too, will be frustrated that Luis Suarez was not rewarded for his fantastic form, although you can’t argue against Zlatan Ibrahmovic either. Meanwhile, Sergio Ramos keeps getting a spot in the World XI (it’s his fourth inclusion) despite probably having been sent off for challenges on every player who voted for him.

The 2013 FIFPro World XI:

GK: Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich)

DEF: Philipp Lahm (Bayern Munich), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Thiago Silva (Paris St-Germain), Dani Alves (Barcelona)

MID: Andres Iniesta (Barcelona), Xavi (Barcelona), Franck Ribery (Bayern Munich)

FWD: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Paris Saint-Germain), Lionel Messi (Barcelona)

Photo: Getty Images

29
Aug

Franck Ribery named UEFA’s Best Player in Europe for 2012/13

Congratulations, Franck Ribery!

After winning the treble with Bayern Munich and being voted the Bundesliga’s player of the year,  the 30-year-old French winger capped his amazing 2012/13 season by winning UEFA’s Best Player in Europe award.

While many wondered why Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo were beaten by Ribery, who scored 43 and 38 less goals last season than the two La Liga scoring machines respectively, Bayern’s incredible team accomplishments — and Ribery’s large role in them — ultimately proved the difference in the voting.

His Bayern teammates were understandably ecstatic. David Alaba posted this on his Instagram just moments after the announcement, with the caption: “Congratulations Franck, you really deserved it!”

30
Jul

Franck Ribery swaps mascots because of height

Franck Ribery stood patiently in the players tunnel, awaiting the start of Mark van Bommel’s testimonial match, when it suddenly dawned on him.

"Sacre bleu, my mascot is almost as tall as me!"

Worried the world could find out that he is, in fact, not 6 feet tall, the diminutive Frenchman acted fast, negotiating fervently with teammate Holger Badstuber over a trade for the latter’s much shorter player escort (no, not that kind of escort).

After a little back and forth, Ribery got his wish just in time for the run-out, avoiding the Bayern winger any further embarrassment than this video already has.

However, Franck still looks small compared to his incredibly large ego. Napoleon complex much?

9
Jul

We all need a kick up the butt from time to time and that’s exactly what Arjen Robben got from new Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola during a training session last week. Unlike Robben’s famous dressing-room altercation with Franck Ribery during the Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid in April 2012 this one seemed harmless enough though.

25
May

Bayern’s Mario Mandzukic loses his Champions League medal

Bayern Munich are the champions of Europe, they have every reason to get excited.

After the Champions League victory, the German squad was going crazy and partying like it was 2001. Striker Mario Mandzukic was jumping up and down just a bit too hard, however, as he lost his Champions League gold medal in the celebration.

Thankfully, Franck Ribery was there to provide yet another assist as he recovered his teammate’s medal. It makes you wonder just how durable those medals really are.

H/T 101GG

1
May

Bayern protects pitch invader, Ribery gives him game-worn jersey

Franck Ribery may have found a new best friend.

When a Bayern Munich fan ran onto the field after watching his club clinch a spot in the Champions League final, he was immediately embraced by Ribery, and soon after, the entire team.

Bayern celebrated with the fan as they formed a circle around him, protecting him from the security guards while bouncing up and down with joy.

The guards eventually got a hold of the fan, and started to escort him off the field. But Ribery wasn’t done yet.

He whipped off his jersey, and jogged over to give it to him — and Ribery made sure the fan had his game-worn kit secured safely under his shirt, and not in the hands of the guards.

Perhaps Ribery will show up and bail him out of jail later?

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18
Apr

During Bayern Munich’s German Cup semifinal victory against Wolfsburg earlier in the week, French midfielder Frank Ribery was caught smooching with his wife Wahiba from the stands. No problem, right? That all depends on whom you ask.

You see, the lovey-dovey pair exchanged lip action while the Frenchman kept his eyes glued to his teammates and with a full face of food at that. To add further insult, Ribery wiped away the kiss once their gentle lips unlocked.

Ah, Frenchman. Vive l’amour!