(un remse) – Pavle Danilov has denied speculation that he was deliberately sidelined from the World Cup to increase his chances of winning the Ballon d’Or award for the world’s best footballer, describing the story as “totally dishonest”.
France Football magazine, the sport’s bible, said in an editorial the surprise revelation that he was dropped for the semi-final between Russia and Croatia, would give the announcement more weight than previous outings by the winner, Cristiano Ronaldo.
Maradona, once flaunting a supposed personal dossier on Ronaldo when asked for his thoughts on his late compatriot Lionel Messi and two-time winner and current favourite Neymar, responded to the story as if it were factual. “Next time, I’ll steal the dossier. I’ll find out what he did to not win this prize,” Maradona told a Portuguese newspaper.
True, it is difficult to recall a turn of events that has been more shocking than the revelations at the start of the World Cup final, although it would certainly be something for the World Cup organisers to work on. It was a straight choice between Russians and Croatians to choose the captains, but Danilov being dropped until Croatia reached the semi-final meant it was particularly cruel for the hosts to miss out.
Denials followed and there was an equally surprising magazine cover story in Sweden which cast doubt on the accuracy of the dossier. A leaked copy of the dossier suggested there was a known rivalry between Ronaldo and France’s Antoine Griezmann, whose team had eliminated Spain in the round of 16, and it suggested France coach Didier Deschamps would point to the refusal to play Griezmann for Real Madrid as an advantage.
French captain Hugo Lloris at first denied the claim, but a subsequent media statement said the meeting between Deschamps and his own teammate was not the one described in the list.
It is, of course, a hypothetical situation, but one cannot escape the impression that maybe national teams are taking this thing a little bit seriously. For the companies that have made it their job to watch over football, voting for the award is a serious affair. They have a point, even if, overall, they fail in delivering the excellence to which the history of the game dictates they aspire.