The prize is recognition of the world’s best footballer and has long been conducted by the publication.
The editor of French magazine France Football has apologised to Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta for not awarding him the Ballon d’Or in his career.
Iniesta finished as the runner-up in 2010 when Spain won the FIFA World Cup and third two years later when his country triumphed at the UEFA European Championship.
With Iniesta potentially set to leave Barcelona at the end of the campaign, France Football’s editor Pascal Ferre (h/t Lawrence Ostlere of The Independent) lamented not crowning the playmaker as the world’s best player at some point.
“Forgive us, Andres,” he said. “For us, he wasn’t just a player, he was the player. His sacrifices for the team ultimately deprived him of greater individual recognition. Of all the absences on the list of Ballon d’Or winners, his is particularly painful. We can only hope he has an special campaign at the World Cup in Russia and repair this democratic anomaly.”
Iniesta’s Barcelona team-mate Lionel Messi and Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo have had a duopoly on the award in recent years. The last player to win the accolade outside of that pair was AC Milan’s Kaka in 2007.
The Spaniard offered a reminder of his greatness on Saturday as Barcelona hammered Sevilla in the Copa del Rey final. In the 5-0 victory the 33-year-old starred, scoring before leaving the pitch to an enormous ovation from all sides of the ground, per The Spanish Football Podcast:
It will be a sad day when Iniesta dons the Blaugrana jersey for the final time, as he’s become synonymous with the Catalan giants.
While his goal and assists return doesn’t rival the likes of Messi or Ronaldo, Iniesta’s ability to control a game and bring the best out of his team-mates is almost unrivalled in world football.
Still, as good as he has been down the years—Iniesta will be remembered as one of the best midfielders of all time—it’s tough to make a case for him winning the Ballon d’Or over either Messi or Ronaldo, such is their incredible consistency.