Lahm: Time to change the Ballon d'Or... it's just a popularity contest for strikers

In his latest exclusive column for Goal, the Bayern Munich defender says Lionel Messi deserved to win his fifth title but suggests a format change for the future


How about selecting the candidates for next year's Fifa Ballon d'Or via Facebook? That would be a modern way of doing it. And the result would probably be the same as Monday's election.

The three most popular players on Facebook are: Cristiano Ronaldo with 108 million followers, Lionel Messi with more than 81 million and Neymar Jr. with 54 million fans.

First, I want to make it clear that Ronaldo, Messi and Neymar are fantastic footballers. It is beyond any question that they have rightfully reached the final shortlist numerous times.

But I have asked myself: What is the voting for the best footballer of the world all about?

Of course, it is an award for the best footballer of the year. That means it's all about the performances on the pitch and about the prizes won. Only a player who not only plays internationally, but who is successful on the biggest stage has the necessary relevance to stand a chance.

There's nothing wrong with this formula. It makes sense that the player of the year is someone who is an international and competes in top club competitions.

But when the voters are national coaches, national captains and a select group of journalists from 209 countries, I am convinced that only a few of these people, despite their knowledge, think about the topic. I have voted myself five times in the past and I don't exclude myself from acting in this way.

I know the procedure. During the season you receive a message and you are asked to name three players from a list of candidates. And then you simply go for the obvious choices – which brings us back to Facebook. You are stuck with the best-known names - players who you immediately remember pictures or games of. Players who are everywhere, on and off the pitch. You vote for the 'most visible' players.


That's why the Ballon d'Or has become a vote for the 'world's best striker'. That's not my embittered perspective as a defensive player but a neutral and statistically proven fact.

Fabio Cannavaro is the only true defender to have won the Golden Ball. The unforgettable Lothar Matthaus won the title as a midfielder in 1991 and after him Zinedine Zidane three times, but Matthaus was much more offensive-minded. Both won it way before the real start of the digital age. Oliver Kahn and Manuel Neuer made the podium but no goalkeeper has ever won it [since Lev Yashin in 1963]. To cut a long story short: Only the players who score goals can be crowned the best footballer of the year.

Of course, the moment when the ball hits the net, that's fascinating for kids playing the game and motivates them to join a club. Our sport needs lethal strikers, goalscorers, heroes.

But football is much more than the moment of triumph. Football is teamwork, unity, defence, assists, sacrifice.

I believe that when Fifa hands out an award, it should not be a marketing prize that solely honours the protagonists of a media-crazy sport. Maybe there shouldn't be an individual award in a team sport but (in addition to the world XI) four single awards for best goalkeeper, best defender, best midfielder and best striker instead.

This is because I don't think you can have one person who is the world's best player. In 2015, Lionel Messi is the deserved winner for the award of the world's best striker. Congratulations, Lionel Messi!