With Messi and Ronaldo dominating the Ballon d’Or Awards for the past 8 years, a former German World Cup winning captain has recently said that the awards are nothing more than a popularity contest for attacking players.

Philipp Lahm, who lead Germany to the 2014 FIFA World Cup and is considered one of the best fullbacks of his time, has spoken out about the Ballon d’Or being nothing more than a marketing act by FIFA and a popularity contest for the strikers who are the most visible in social media and the news.

While praising the skills and performances of Ballon d’Or candidates Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar, Lahm has questioned the process of selection for football’s most prestigious individual award and claims that it is easily manipulated by what we are fed in the media, with the winning candidates often being those whose contributions are easily recognized as they are in the form of goals and attacking play.

“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.”, Lahm wrote in an exclusive column for goal.com.

It’s a strikers game

Lahm looked back at the history of the award and it’s recipients, pointing out that the advent of the digital age made it even more difficult for defensive players to win the award and suggested that it would be better to have separate awards for forwards, midfielders, defenders and goalkeepers.

“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.”, he said.

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