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Messi, Ronaldo make winning Ballon d'Or difficult for African players - Diouf

16:40 SAST 2019/12/04
Mohamed Salah Sadio Mane Liverpool
Liverpool’s Sadio Mane came close to winning the 2019 Ballon d’Or after being named fourth on the list

Former Senegal striker El Hadji Diouf claims the presence of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi will make it difficult for an African footballer to win the Ballon d’Or.

Barcelona and Argentina captain Messi received his sixth Ballon d’Or on Monday as Liverpool forward Sadio Mane came close to winning the coveted crown by finishing fourth in the voting.

Since former Liberia captain George Weah became the first non-European to claim the Ballon d’Or in 1995, no African player has achieved that feat again.

In recent years, Messi And Ronaldo have taken turns to bag the Ballon d’Or and Diouf feels the two’s presence will make it difficult for Africans to win that recognition although he said Mane has potential to claim the award.

“[Sadio Mane] has had an extraordinary season …has been huge...[and] still has room for improvement,” Diouf was quoted as saying by the Senegal Press Agency.

“We can just talk about favouritism as South American and European players are better seen [as] and better sold than African players.

“They have big brands and the big media, which promote them and are seen and read everywhere, and that's a huge advantage.

“When it comes to the Ballon d’Or there are slack years… and when it's a World Cup year, a footballer who manages to stand out, who cracks the screen, can win as done by the Croatian [Luka] Modric in 2018.

“But as long as phenomena like Ronaldo and Messi are present, it will be difficult to get the Ballon d’Or."

Senegal Football Federation president Augustine Senghor also feels that it is complicated for an African player to land the Ballon d’Or.

“As it is difficult for a woman to be elected president of the United States of America or France, it is difficult for an African footballer to be recognised at its fair value and elected Ballon d'Or or The Best [Fifa Men’s player],” said Senghor as quoted by the Senegal Press Agency.