EXCLUSIVE: Ferdinand slams ‘cruel’ decision to take Ballon d’Or away from favourite Lewandowski
Rio Ferdinand believes Robert Lewandowski must be heartbroken after the decision to cancel the 2020 Ballon d’Or, with the Bayern Munich striker one of the favourites to scoop the award.
Polish marksman Lewandowski would likely have been odds on to collect the coveted title after a season that has seen him blast 34 goals in 31 Bundesliga matches and fire another 13 goals to spearhead Bayern’s Champions League push.
However, France Football, the organisers of the award, decided to cancel this year’s ceremony due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Ahead of Bayern’s Champions League quarter-final showdown with Barcelona on Friday, Manchester United legend Ferdinand said Lewandowski deserves to join the list of greats to have been crowned as the best in the world.
Lionel Messi has won the award a record six times, with Cristiano Ronaldo also a frequent recent winner.
“If I’m Lewandowski and they have cancelled the Ballon d’Or, I’m starting up a petition to get it back on,” BT Sport analyst Ferdinand told TEAMtalk in an exclusive interview.
“Aside from the year when Luka Modric won it, Messi and Ronaldo have dominated that award for the last 12 years and Lewandowski has taken himself to the next level this season.
“I can’t believe they have cancelled it. It’s cruel, that is a good word to describe it. Lewandowski deserves to win that award for what he has done this season and if he leads Bayern Munich to the Champions League and they still decide they won’t give it out to him, it’s not right.”
Serial Ballon d’Or winner Ronaldo is often accused of putting too much of his effort into winning the individual prize. However Ferdinand believes his former team-mate has every right to celebrate his five successes in the annual vote.
‘THIS IS A BIG DEAL’
“People say Ronaldo takes the award too seriously, but I’m not having that,” added Ferdinand. “What the award means to the history of the game, I think it’s a disgrace that they have taken it away for this year.
“Why can’t they give the award out, even if they don’t have a big ceremony to hand it over like they normally do? I think it’s really out of order.
“This is a big deal. You talk to Michael Owen and ask him what the best trophy was in his career and he might say it was the Ballon d’Or in 2001.
“To be on that list as the best player in the world is special. All these players want to be there. That’s the elite, the ultimate for a top player, and in this generation now there are two players who have dominated it for so long.
“That would have made it all the more special for Lewandowski to get his name on that list and I can’t believe they have taken it away from him.”
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