Ballon d’Or 2019: How African votes denied Mane, Salah top position

By Harry Awurumibe, Abuja

More facts have emerged on why African nominees for the Ballon d’Or 2019 including the fourth placed Senegalese and Liverpools FC star, Sadio Mane failed to beat the Argentine and FC Barcelona legend, Lionel Messi to the coveted trophy Monday in Paris, France.

A closer look at the voting pattern country by country showed that some African nations including Nigeria ranked African top contenders namely Mane; Mohamed Salah of Egypt and Liverpool FC; Riyad Mahrez of Algeria and Manchester City;  Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Gabon and Arsenal and Kalidou Koulibaly of Senegal and Napoli very low in their assessment.

Although Mane and Salah finished in the fourth and fifth places respectively, most of the persons who voted for the 52 African countries for the Ballon d’ Or 2019 winner scored African players lower than the foreigners.

For example, Libya’s Mohamed Fawaz of Almustaqbal Magazinevoted for none Africans. He did not vote for any African player just as Nigeria’s Samm Audu placed Mane in the fifth place in his scale of preference. He did not choose Salah, Mahrez, Aubameyang and Koilibaly.

Also, other African countries either failed to vote for African players or place them lower than the foreign players. Among the countries that scored Mane and Salah low are Angola (Mane-5, Salah-4); South (Mane-4, Salah-x) and Cape Verde (Mane-4, Salah-x).

However, a large number of African nations showed solidarity by voting massively for Mane and Salah to be able to finish among the first five over all. Leading the countries that placed Mane first is his home country-Senegal courtesy of Allou Goloko of All  andZimbabwe’s Charles Mabika of ZBC TV as well as the representatives of Egypt, Algeria and Benin Republic.

Other nations that chose Mane first are Burkina Faso and Djibouti while Burundi, Congo and Cote d’ Ivoire while Cameroon placed Salah and Mane second and third respectively.

Meanwhile, Mahrez was placed 10th even as Koulibaly and Aubameyang were placed 20thand 24th respectively in the final 30-man 2019 World Best Footballers according to the organizers, France Football.

 But the Monday, December 2 night belonged to the Argentine great, Lionel Messi who won his sixth Ballon d’ Or at the expense of the emerging Belgium’s star, Virgil van Dijk who came second while Portugal legend, Cristiano Ronaldo finished third.  Even in Spain, former AS editor, Alfredo Relaño, opted for Van Dijk instead of  Ronaldo, Messi.

 It was also a golden evening for United States Women’s National Team co-captain and FIFA Best Women’s Footballer, Megan Rapinoe  who won the Women’s Ballon d’Or, while Alisson Becker of Brazil and Liverpool FC and Matthijs de Ligt of Netherlands and Juventus collected the Yashin Trophy and Kopa Trophy respectively.

The global event which was anchored by African Football Living Legend and former Chelsea FC Champuions League winning squad member, Didier Drogba alongside a French On Air Personality at the iconic Theatre du Chatelet, Paris.

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