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The Ballon D’or numbers game: Messi vs Ronaldo Part I

16 January 2015

imagemessironaldo5 Added Minutes doesn’t care too much for Messi vs Ronaldo debates, but it does care for data and insights into behaviour, of which the Ballon D’or voting system provides lots of. Each country has three voters – the national captain, national coach and member of the media – who provide three votes worth 5, 3 and 1 point towards the best player in the world that year.

In the four awards since 2011 (held in January 2012 to celebrate the achievements of the previous year), Messi and Ronaldo have shared 60% of the points on offer – from a maximum possible of 89% – with Messi edging out his rival with 32% of the points.

But in this era of shared dominance, which countries have preferred the Argentine? And which have opted against him? The voting patterns of three individuals may not reflect the views of an entire country, but they provide a curious and sometimes amusing insight into certain national preferences:


Clearly, the home countries of the two men are their most ardent supporters – though one Portuguese 5-point vote went to Lionel Messi in 2011, which means Ronaldo falls short of Messi’s 5.0 average.

Germany have largely preferred to cast votes for their own players or midfielders, whilst Belgium have awarded just 4 of a possible 48 points to either player in the last two years, preferring home grown talent like Courtois and Hazard as well as players like Lewandowski, Yaya Toure and Ibrahimovic.

Spain’s ‘dislike’ of Messi is largely due to their Madrid-leaning voters, which have always included Iker Casillas and Vincente del Bosque, but Greece’s voters appear to have no such excuse. Brazil are the only South American team to appear on the Portuguese’s side of the Messi-Ronaldo diagonal, though only Messi-loving Iran have awarded more points cumulatively to the two men.

The full list of countries, coloured by confederation, is below (click to enlarge):



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