Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : November 30th 2013 Contents A57
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PARIS---The men's saber team event
and the women's foil team event have
been dropped for the 2016 Olympics in Rio
The International Fencing Federation
made the decision yesterday at its
congress in Paris.
The federation has been rotating two
team events out of the Olympics since the
2008 Beijing Games. The team events in
men's epee and women's saber were left
out of the 2012 London Olympics.
In Rio, men and women will still be able
to compete individually in the epee, foil
and saber. The team events will be men's
epee and foil and women's epee and saber.
The qualification criteria for Rio will be
similar to those for London, with a quota
of 212 athletes, including eight spots for
host country Brazil.
"With regard to the team events in Rio
2016, the FIE has followed the logical
order of rotation," said FIE president
Alisher Usmanov, a Russian billionaire. "I
promise that we will not give up our hopes
to obtain the two additional medals and
will continue our efforts."
The FIE also announced that the
Russian cities of Kazan and Moscow will
host the world championships in 2014 and
2015, respectively. (AP)
2 fencing team events dropped for Rio Games
the only choice for
the Ballon d'Or.
PARIS---What s not to like about
Cristiano Ronaldo? Other than the
fact that he s fabulously rich, a
giant success in his chosen pro-
fession, steps out with a fashion
model, has a cute-looking son and
is dreamy to many members of the
opposite and indeed his own sex.
Isn t life unfair? Now add to that
enviable list Ronaldo s penchant for
preening self-love and it becomes
even easier to understand why the
Real Madrid megastar isn t every-
one s cup of tea. The reason FIFA
boss Sepp Blatter felt comfortable
publicly mocking Ronaldo in a recent
debate with students at Oxford Uni-
versity is because he knew it would
get a few cheap laughs.
But all of this has little or nothing
to do with Ronaldo the footballer.
If you ignore for a moment how he
makes you feel, that he gets under
people s skin and raises hackles, then
the honest conclusion about Ronaldo
should be that with a ball at his feet
only Lionel Messi is better.
A succession of injuries, however,
made football s Superman look
human in 2013. Messi did win the
Spanish championship with
Barcelona for a sixth time and
scored 40-plus goals for the club
and Argentina, so his year was hard-
ly a write-off. Still, if your life
depended in 2013 on a player win-
ning a game of football, then for
the first time since he was world
player of the year in 2008, you
might have picked Ronaldo.
Now apply that same logic to the
2013 Ballon d Or. Again, Ronaldo
can be the only choice. Yesterday
was the voting deadline for the elec-
torate of national team coaches and
captains, plus a journalist from each
of FIFA s 209 member countries.
Not maintaining his own other-
worldly standards in 2013 should
rule out Messi. Anointing him for
a fifth successive year would look
like Messi is winning by default,
not merit. That would devalue the
trophy and make voters look like
creatures of habit not discernment.
The winner will be announced Jan-
Franck Ribery at Bayern Munich
has a strong case. The France winger
says he would put the shiny golden
ball above his fireplace.
But if Ribery gets the Ballon d Or
for winning the Champions League,
German Cup and German league
with Bayern Munich, then why not
other players from that club? Why
not Arjen Robben, for his winning
goal in the Champions League final?
Or Thomas Mueller for three semi-
final goals against Barcelona? Or
Bayern captain Philipp Lahm?
Because football is a team sport,
team success should be a factor in
Ballon d Or considerations. But not
the only factor. Even if one accepts
the argument that Ribery was the
best player in the world s best team,
that still doesn t make him the
world s best footballer.
Ribery s 23 assists for Bayern were
impressive, his 11 goals less so. Messi
got 14 goals in 14 league and Cham-
pions League appearances this sea-
son before a left hamstring tear on
November 10 cut his year short.
Ribery s advocates make much
of his industry on the Bayern wing,
more visible now that he helps out
in defence with greater consistency.
But working hard should be a given.
It doesn t make Ribery football s
best player, either.
FIFA s decision last week to
extend the Ballon d Or voting dead-
line from the middle to the end of
November muddied the waters.
FIFA s explanation was that turnout
was low, which begs the question:
If voters can t be bothered to cast
ballots on time in sufficient num-
bers, is the Ballon d Or now unim-
portant? Or have they just lost inter-
est after four years of Messi?
Most damaging to the trophy s
credibility was the decision to let
voters who had already made their
switch support to
him. It opened the
door to conspiracy theories of FIFA
vote-rigging and favouritism,
although no one seems able to fur-
nish a logical, fact-based explana-
tion why the governing body would
want Ronaldo to win more than
another candidate. Besides, Ronal-
do s four goals that carried Portugal
to the World Cup at Sweden s
expense shouldn t alone make him
the Ballon d Or winner.
The reason Ronaldo deserves the
trophy is that he forms one half of
the most engrossing and intense
individual rivalries in football, with
Messi. In going toe-to-toe at the
top of Spanish football over the past
four years, they have torn up record
books, scored hundreds of goals,
pushed each other to play better,
train harder. It is in part because
Messi and Ronaldo have each
as foils that we can be
so absolutely sure
that what we see in
them is utterly
After four years
of Messi, Ronaldo
for the Ballon d Or.
for Ballon d'Or
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