Football

Melosport’s round-up of the week – Ballon d’Or hots up, Lance Armstrong’s cycling legacy in tatters and Ashley Cole bottles it

The real debate: Cristiano Ronaldo v Lionel Messi

Early next year, on 7th January in Zurich, the winner of Ballon d’Or will be announced. An honour voted by the world’s top coaches – this event is the coronation of the world’s best footballer.

Akin to the US Presidential race, the debates are already well under way. Current holder and three-time winner Lionel Messi was praised on the weekend following his brace in the El Clasico 2-2 draw between Barcelona and Real Madrid at the Camp Nou. Messi’s second goal, an exquisite free-kick, was yet another gem to add to an already distinguished catalogue of jewels. Barca coach Tito Vilanova labelled his Number 10, as “the best (player) in the world by a long way”.

Cristiano Ronaldo matched Messi’s scoring feats by piercing the home side’s defence twice, scoring in his sixth consecutive El Clasico. They were his ninth and tenth goals scored against the Catalans in 16 games.

Jose Mourinho, defending Cristiano Ronaldo’s corner, declared via an interview with Portuguese daily A Bola, “When someone with the same responsibility as me comes out and says: ‘Mine is the best on the planet’ then I have to say: mine was not born in Madeira, he was born on Mars; he is not from planet Earth, he is the best in the universe.”

Rewind a few weeks back. A glum Ronaldo chose not to celebrate scoring for Real because he was ‘sad’. The public was bewildered. Not having his ego massaged enough seemed to be the cause of the problem. Unsurprising then that Mourinho, the self-proclaimed Special One, added “It would be a crime if Ronaldo did not win the Ballon d’Or.”

Lance Armstrong’s cycling legacy in tatters

On Wednesday, the US Anti-Doping Agency released a report detailing “the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme sport has ever seen”. In the report 11 of, seven-time Tour De France winner, Lance Armstrong’s team-mates testified against him. The report concluded “no doubt that Mr Armstrong’s career (from 1998-2005) was fuelled from start to finish by doping”.

This now means that since 1980, an astounding half (17) of the 33 Tour De France winners have either tested positive, have been sanctioned or admitted doping.

Armstrong’s lawyer Sean Breen described the report as “one-sided hatchet job.” Britain’s Bradley Wiggins, the 2012 Tour De France winner, disagrees. “It is certainly not a one-sided hatchet job, it is pretty damning. I am shocked at the scale of the evidence. I have been involved in pro cycling for a long time and I realise what it takes to train and win the Tour de France. I’m not surprised by it…I had a good idea what is going on.”

He added, “”We are the ones picking these pieces up. For me it is about moving forward and not looking back any more to what happened 10, 15 years ago. We are one of the most successful sports for catching people. I don’t think that is relevant to what we are doing today. What we are doing today is setting the example for our sport.”

‘Cashley’ Cole does his reputation no favours

Following his naïve and cowardly attack on the Football Association, where he tweeted that the FA are a “BUNCH OF TW*TS”, Ashley Cole has moved neck-and-neck with club-mate John Terry for the much coveted status of sports public enemy number one.

The FA ruled that Cole’s evidence during John Terry’s disciplinary hearing was unreliable, something which England’s left-back of 98 caps took exception to. Like many other of his peers, he immediately retreated his comments and like a naughty, little school-boy mumbled ‘Sorry Sir’ (or words to that effect) to the FA.

Surprisingly, there are those who believe his outburst does not merit a punishment since all footballers misbehave and, in Cole’s instance, it was solely an unfortunate moment of frustration. However, if he made the same comment during a television or newspaper interview he would have surely endured a lengthy ban.

The growing problem of sport stars’ increasingly irresponsible use of social media needs to be addressed. All clubs and sports associations should be working together to introduce a strict code of conduct that everyone can adhere to. Freedom of speech and Human Rights are weak arguments if the same comments made on Twitter, for example, cannot be made in a television, radio or newspaper interview.

So with Chelsea’s ‘Toxic Twins’ taking up much of the tabloids’ rear-ends, it is only a matter of time before an over zealous Joey Barton decides to viciously wrap a baguette around a youth team player’s face in Marseille.

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