Gianni Infantino was not amused by the absence of the game's two biggest stars in London and is seeking legal means to ensure there is no repeat.
Gianni Infantino is not a happy man. The Fifa president has not taken kindly to the absence of Cristiano Ronaldo and Leo Messi from this year’s The Best awards ceremony in London, considering the decision by the game’s two biggest stars to constitute an effective boycott of the world governing body. And to ensure there are no further gaps in the photo shoot when the year’s best 11 players gather to receive their awards, Infantino has instructed Fifa’s legal department to seek a way to enshrine attendance by the full list of nominated finalists at the annual ceremony in law.
Infantino’s predecessor in the position, Sepp Blatter, found himself in the eye of the storm in 2013 when during a question and answer session at the Oxford Union he expressed a preference for Messi and mocked Ronaldo’s “hairdresser expenses” while comparing his on-pitch style as that of “a commander,” performing a little routine on stage impersonating the Portuguese. This elicited a withering response from Ronaldo, who demanded an apology from Blatter.
Blatter's Ronaldo backdown
"This video shows clearly the respect and consideration that Fifa has for me, for my club and my country. Much is explained now. I wish Mr Blatter health and a long life, with the certainty that he will continue to witness, as he deserves, the successes of his favourite teams and players," the Portuguese posted on social media.
It was forthcoming, privately via a telephone call and publicly with a social media release in which Blatter said he had meant no offence. Only after that did Ronaldo agree to attend the 2013 Fifa Ballon d’Or ceremony (when both awards were combined into one), which he subsequently won, sparing Blatter the ignominy of handing over the prize to a stand-in.