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The Ballon d'Or: Shimmering statuettes, simmering rivalries – but dodgier suits

The Ballon d'Or is the Oscars of the football world
  • @willydean

Fifa's Ballon d'Or bash is about as close as sport gets to the Oscars, except that Daniel Day-Lewis doesn't win something every single year.

It's also a bit daft. It does, however, give the planet's most gifted footballers the chance to emulate Robert De Niro et al by strolling down the red carpet and revelling in their achievements of the previous year. Cristiano Ronaldo even gets the annual chance to smile through gritted teeth at Lionel Messi – dressed on Monday as a miniature piano ornament – as his nemesis beats him to World Player of the Year. Again.

Where the comparison fades is that the Oscars are generally the highlight of a winning actor's year. For Messi and co, it's nothing compared to scoring in front of 90,000 fans. It does, however, allow us mere mortals to cock a snook at the suits of these footballing superheroes and Messi's polka-dot Dolce & Gabbana certainly raised a few eyebrows. Though, to this observer, it was an improvement of 2012's Hefner-velvet jacket. Other greats look similarly awkward in suits rather than shorts. Remember Zinedine Zidane in his 1998 pomp in a suit at least three sizes too big; Cristiano in one of those awful mid-noughties contrast-collar shirts. Or Pavel Nedved looking more like the Owen Wilson's non-union body double than Europe's best footballer. Nothing like a "best on the planet" gong to bring someone down to earth.