Lionel Messi put the lid on all speculations winning the Ballon d’Or for the seventh time on November 29, 2021.
Many questioned the decision, however, pointing out that the likes of Robert Lewandowski (49) and Karim Benzema (33) deserved it more since they have more goals in 2021 than Lionel Messi (29).
But, goals are not the only factor that determines a Ballon d’Or winner.
If that were the case, Luca Modric would have been nowhere near the Ballon d’Or top 10, let alone winning it.
The voting criteria
The Ballon d’Or voters pick their winner based on two criteria:
- Did the player perform at an extra-ordinary level? If the player plays in a non-attacking position, his impact in the team’s performance needs to be taken into consideration since they do not have quantifiable metrics.
- Did he manage to transform his personal brilliance into collective success?
That said, we are not claiming that there have not been any controversial calls in the history of Ballon d’Or.
Wesley Sneijder in 2010 and Franck Ribery in 2013 will always be seen as the unluckiest nominees of the prestigious award.
But, in 2021, the voters chose the right footballer.
Lewandowski & Benzema analysis
Robert Lewandowski won the Bundesliga with Bayern Munich, but Bayern’s sheer dominance in the German top-flight makes it hard to believe that they would not have won it without their mercurial striker.
The Bavarians have won the league for the ninth consecutive season in 2020/21, so it is hard to root for a Bayern player in the Ballon d’Or without Bayern winning the Champions League.
Karim Benzema has been operating in a whole other level since Cristiano Ronaldo left Los Blancos.
Despite his incredible returns, the Frenchman failed to lead Real Madrid to any silverware.
Madrid crashed out of the Champions League semis, got knocked out of the Copa del Rey by Spanish third-tier side Alcoyano, and finished second to neighbours Atletico Madrid in La Liga.
Messi, on the other hand, has won trophies both for his club and country apart from registering some impressive stats.
Messi contributed 30 goals in 36 La Liga appearances for Barcelona last season, leading them to a third-place finish, which seems unlikely for the Blaugrana to achieve this season.
The Argentine put up a man-of-the-match performance in the Copa del Rey as Barca cruised to a 4-0 victory against Athletic Bilbao.
Winning the Copa del Rey might not have been enough for Messi to surpass Lewandowski or Jorginho, who was a vital part of Chelsea’s UCL triumph and Italy’s Euro win.
It was Messi’s fantastic performance in Copa America that made him a clear favourite for the honour.
As Argentina lifted their first international trophy in 28 years, Messi led from the front with four goals and five assists over 630 minutes.
The 34-year-old exhibited genuine leadership qualities in Brazil and inspired the whole team to perform better, much akin to a certain Diego Maradona who sent Argentina to football paradise 25 years ago.
Lionel Messi is still settling in at his new club Paris Saint-Germain, and his performances are yet to hit the astronomical standards that we have seen him set over the past years.
But, it would be unfair to consider him unworthy of the Ballon d’Or for his recent struggles. On a personal level, he had a phenomenal season in 2020/21 and was duly rewarded for it.
Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman hails rise of good performance amongst sports during 2024 Budget speech
India’s finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman lauded the rise of sports in India during her Union Budget speech. The Indian contingent finished with its highest-ever medal tally during the Asian Games last year.
Even the Asian Para Games contingent did well and won many medals. Chess has also produced some amazing Indian talents. 18-year-old Praggnanandhaa came in for special attention from the Finance Minister.
The youngster reached the finals of the Chess World Cup before losing to Magnus Carlsen. This achievement was lauded by Nirmala Sitharaman during her speech in the floor of the house.
Finance minister lauds Indian growth in sports
India’s finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman was presenting the interim budget ahead of the 2024 Elections. During her chat listing all the achievements the country has made, her comments on sports took the limelight.
Sitharaman said “The country is proud of our youth scaling new heights in sports. The highest-ever medal tally in Asian Games and Asian Para Games in 2023 reflects a high confidence level. Chess prodigy and our number-one ranked player Praggnanandhaa put up a stiff fight against the reigning World Champion Magnus Carlsson in 2023. Today, India has over 80 chess grandmasters compared to little over 20 in 2010,”
Last year during the Asian Games, India finished 4th in the medals tally. The final tally read, 28 gold medals, 38 silver medals, and 41 bronze medals. Men’s and Women’s cricket won gold medals for the first time. The Indian Kabaddi Team did well to beat Iran in the final of a pulsating contest.
Despite their bad performance in the AFC Asian Cup 2024, even Indian football has started to perform well. Indian Cricket Team reached the finals of the ODI World Cup and the World Test Championships in 2023. 2024 is set to be yet another huge year for Indian sports. The focus will be on the huge Olympics set to be held in Paris this year. The likes of Neeraj Chopra will be looking to bring even more glory to the nation with their performances.
CSK Skipper MS Dhoni files lawsuit against Business partner, accuses cheating and financial loss
In surprising news, cricketing legend Mahendra Singh Dhoni has taken legal action against his former business associates, Mihir Diwakar and Soumya Vishwash of Aarka Sports and Management Limited. The former India captain accuses them of tricking him in a deal related to cricket academies, resulting in a huge financial loss of over Rs 15 crore. Dhoni filed a criminal case in October 2023, accusing them of cheating.
The legal battle unfolded as Dhoni and Diwakar agreed in 2017 to open a cricket academy. However, Diwakar allegedly failed to stick to the specified conditions, causing substantial financial harm to MSD.
Today, the court witnessed the proceedings in the case, highlighting the intricacies of the alleged breach of agreement. The cricketing maestro and Mihir Diwakar’s agreement in 2017 outlined the opening of a cricket academy. However, Diwakar is accused of failing to adhere to the predetermined terms, causing a significant loss estimated at Rs 17 crore for Dhoni.
MS Dhoni is set to make a comeback in IPL 2024
The accusations of deception and breach of agreement have added a new layer to the ongoing legal saga. Dayanand Singh, representing MS Dhoni through Vidhi Associates, emphasised the alleged failure of Mihir Diwakar to fulfil the agreed-upon conditions, leading to substantial financial losses for the cricket icon.
The legal battle takes a more dramatic turn as Dhoni’s friend, Simant Lohani (Chittu), also files a complaint. Lohani alleges that he faced threats and abuse from Mihir Diwakar after legal action was initiated against Aarka Sports.
Despite the legal complexities, MS Dhoni remains resolute in his return to competitive cricket. Recently returning from Dubai after celebrating the New Year, Dhoni is gearing up for IPL 2024, which is anticipated to be his farewell season in the league. The legal tussle with former business partners adds an unexpected twist to Dhoni’s journey, underscoring the challenges even cricketing legends face beyond the boundary.
South Africa’s paralympian Oscar Pistorius released on parole
Former South Africa Paralympian Oscar Pistorius has been released on strict parole conditions. Back in 2013, he mistakenly murdered his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. He claimed to have mistaken her for a burglar and shot her from inside his bathroom. In the same year, he was jailed for 16 years. However, after completing his 11 years of sentence, he has been released on bail on some conditions.
Pistorius’ sentence will conclude in 2029. As per the law of the South African land, offenders are allowed to be considered for parole after serving half of their total sentence, and in Pistorius’s case, this moment has arrived. His parole conditions include strict monitoring and participation in programs addressing anger management and gender-based violence.
Reeva Steenkamp’s mother, June Steenkamp, expressed her acceptance of the legal process, stating as per BBC, “The conditions imposed by the parole board, which includes anger management courses and programs on gender-based violence, send out a clear message that gender-based violence is taken seriously.” She acknowledged the limitations of justice, emphasizing the irreparable loss suffered by her family.
Oscar Pistorius’ journey in a nutshell
The 37-year-old’s career took off when he secured four gold medals in the Paralympics. During the 2012 London Olympics, he competed against non-disabled athletes. However, due to the unfortunate event mentioned above, his much-celebrated career came to an end.
The Department of Correctional Services in South Africa asserted that Pistorius, despite his celebrity status, would be treated like any other parolee. The conditions entail home confinement during specific hours, a ban on alcohol consumption, and restrictions on media interaction.
June Steenkamp reflected on the complexity of justice in the face of an irreparable loss, stating, “There can never be justice if your loved one is never coming back, and no amount of time served will bring Reeva back.” She expressed her hope to focus on the Reeva Rebecca Steenkamp Foundation, dedicated to continuing her daughter’s legacy.
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