Voter claims Ballon d'Or was rigged
Photo Source: EPA
Qatar manager Fahad Al Zarraa says he was forced to vote for Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo to win the Ballon d'Or as a gesture of gratitude to FIFA boss Sepp Blatter.
Ronaldo took out world football's highest individual honour for a second time on Monday night. The Portuguese received 27.99 percent of votes, ahead of Argentine rival Lionel Messi (24.72 percent) and France's Franck Ribery (23.36).
Qatar, the nation that will controversially host the 2022 World Cup in winter, put their full support behind Ronaldo. The 28-year-old received first-choice votes from Qatar's team captain (Bila Rajab), media representative and national coach.
But according to Al Zarraa, the decision to vote for Ronaldo was forced upon him.
"I was told by my president to vote for Ronaldo to help Blatter clean up his image as a token of appreciation for bringing the World Cup here," the manager said.
Suspicions were raised that FIFA were gunning for Ronaldo to win the Ballon d'Or when the governing body took the unprecedented step of extending the voting period until after Portugal's World Cup playoff with Sweden.
Ronaldo was unstoppable in that tie, scoring all four goals in a 4-2 win on aggregate to ensure Portugal would take their place among the finalists in Brazil later this year.
Blatter had earlier offended Ronaldo, Real Madrid and Portugal by calling the Ronaldo a "commander on the field of play" and saying he "has more expenses at the hairdresser" than Messi.
Messi, Blatter said, "is a good boy, that every father and every mother would like to have at home."
Following that incident, it is believed FIFA were keen to see Ronaldo win the Ballon d'Or to wash away any suspicion of bias towards Messi.
The Barcelona striker was chasing a fifth consecutive trophy, having won the FIFA award in four straight years from 2009-12.