Luka Modric has been awarded the 2018 Ballon d’Or, becoming the first footballer player other than Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo to win the trophy since 2007.
The Real Madrid and Croatia midfielder was rewarded for a stellar year in which he helped the Spanish side to a third consecutive Champions League title, and his country to their first World Cup final.
“It was a really special year for me,” said Modric. “This award is for all the players who probably deserved to win it and didn’t.
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“It is difficult to express my emotion and how I feel in words. It is something unique for me.”
Five-time winner Ronaldo was the runner-up, while Antoine Griezmann finished third. Griezmann’s French teammate Kylian Mbappe was fourth and Barcelona’s Lionel Messi, another five-time winner, was fifth.
La Liga love-in
Despite Modric finally breaking the Ronaldo-Messi stranglehold, the ceremony highlighted once again the heavy bias towards Spain’s La Liga.
It was incomprehensible to many that Atletico Madrid forward Griezmann finished one place in the voting above compatriot Mbappe, even though the latter was far more influential in France winning the Fifa World Cup.
Mbappe also helped his club, Paris Saint-Germain, to the French league and cup double, and to the knockout stage of the Champions League. By contrast, the best Griezmann could manage was the Europa League crown, after Atletico Madrid failed to make it out of the Champions League group stage.
However, teenager Mbappe was awarded the inaugural Kopa Trophy, given to the world’s best under-21 male footballer.
Premier League snubbed again
The hostility to the Premier League among Ballon d’Or voters was again in evidence, with Liverpool and Egyptian forward Mohamed Salah the highest-placed Premier League player, coming in sixth.
Chelsea’s Eden Hazard was eighth, a surprise given his excellence in inspiring Belgium to third place in the World Cup. Tottenham striker Harry Kane, who won the World Cup’s golden boot for his six goals for England, finished tenth.
The inaugural Women’s Ballon d’Or was won by Lyon and Norway striker Ada Hegerberg, but her acceptance of the trophy was overshadowed by the antics of guest DJ Martin Solveig.
As Hegerberg collected her award, the Frenchman asked if she knew “how to twerk”. The Norwegian replied in the negative and later brushed off the question by saying she “understood it was a joke”.
However, others were less forgiving, reports BBC Sport. Tennis star Andy Murray wrote on Instagram: “Another example of the ridiculous sexism that still exists in sport. To everyone who thinks people are overreacting and it was just a joke... it wasn’t. I’ve been involved in sport my whole life and the level of sexism is unreal.”
Solveig later issued an apology on Twitter, blaming his faux pas on language difficulties. “I am a little bit amazed as to what I am reading on the internet,” he wrote. “I, of course, didn’t want to offend anyone. This comes from a distortion of my English level and my English culture level, which is obviously not enough because I didn’t mean to offend anyone and didn’t know this could be seen as such an offence.”
2018 Ballon d’Or top ten
- 1 Luka Modric (Real Madrid and Croatia)
- 2 Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus and Portugal)
- 3 Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid and France)
- 4 Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain and France)
- 5 Lionel Messi (Barcelona and Argentina)
- 6 Mohamed Salah (Liverpool and Egypt)
- 7 Raphael Varane (Real Madrid and France)
- 8 Eden Hazard (Chelsea and Belgium)
- 9 Kevin de Bruyne (Manchester City and Belgium)
- 10 Harry Kane (Tottenham and England)
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