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Nov 22, 2013

FIFA defends Ballon d'Or vote extension

FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke has told L'Equipe that the world football's governing body has "nothing to hide" by extending the voting deadline for the Ballon d'Or.

• Hunter: Confusion, secrecy, chaos will ruin Ballon d'Or
• Marcotti: FIFA could have handled Ballon d'Or better

National team captains and coaches, as well as select media representatives should have had their votes registered with FIFA by Nov. 15, but it was announced on Tuesday they now have until Nov. 29, to decide who should win football's biggest individual prize for 2013.

FIFA released a statement saying the decision to extend the deadline was taken on Friday morning before voters were notified on Tuesday morning.

However, the delay has caused a stir in France in particular with it seemingly favouring Cristiano Ronaldo following his spectacular showing in the World Cup playoff win over Sweden in which the Real Madrid man scored all four of Portugal's goals, including a hat trick in Tuesday evening's second leg.

"If we decided to extend the deadline, it's simply because we didn't have -- to our mind -- enough votes. We have always said that we wanted to have 75 percent of the votes," Valcke explained. "The Ballon d'Or has to be representative of a credible opinion. Last year, we had more than 80 percent. There's nothing to hide. There's no manipulation, no opportunity to interfere with the procedure nor the result of the vote, which is watched over by a solicitor."

He added: "The Ballon d'Or is a purely sporting event. The votes come from three totally different sectors. We don't have any preference."

Ronaldo's display overshadowed that of Franck Ribery, who is among the frontrunners for the award following last season's Treble with Bayern Munich, but who did not particularly shine in France's own playoff triumph against Ukraine.

The Portuguese star's one-man-stand was also to the detriment of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who scored twice in Solna on Tuesday, but still found himself out of the limelight. However, Valcke insisted his country's failure to reach next summer's finals in Brazil would not necessarily rule the Paris Saint-Germain star out of the reckoning.

He said: "If the Ballon d'Or has had an exceptional season, he may well not be qualified for the World Cup. A player doesn't qualify his team on his own. If his team isn't there, it's not necessarily his fault."

The honour will be presented on Jan. 13 in Zurich, but speaking to RMC, 1994 Ballon d'Or winner Hristo Stoichkov said the award should be judged on a season-by-season basis, rather than a calendar year.

"The leagues are played between August and May. So, when it's finished, the prize should be attributed in June," the former Bulgaria international explained. "With the current format, people get it wrong and don't reward a player for a season."

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