The organisers of the Ballon d'Or have admitted that reigning holder Lionel Messi's debut season with Paris Saint-Germain was not good enough to earn him a spot on the shortlist for the 2022 award, unlike Cristiano Ronaldo.
For the first time in 17 years, Messi failed to make the final 30-man shortlist for the Ballon d'Or, capping off a frustrating first year in Paris which yielded 11 goals and 15 assists in 34 games - a comparatively poor return for someone with Messi's lofty standards.
The decision to omit Messi from the shortlist prompted a huge uproar from fans, so much so that France Football, the organisers of the award, threw together a quick Q&A session to offer some clarity.
"Inevitably, Lionel Messi, with his 15 appearances in a row since 2006, his seven Ballon d'Or victories, his title holder status, weighs very heavily when it comes to the final choice," the organisers said.
"The Argentinian was part of the discussions to integrate the 30, but the new criteria for the Ballon d'Or were unfavourable to him: disappearance of the criterion of a player's entire career, and new periodicity, modelled on a season of football and no longer over a calendar year, which does not make it possible to integrate the Copa America of July 11, 2021.
"And then, it must be admitted that his first season in Paris was very disappointing both in terms of the visual impression and the statistics."
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"The statistics say the opposite," their response began. "Ronaldo became the top scorer in national football this season. He was extremely decisive in the Champions League group stage with four off-the-cuff goals that gave Man Utd seven points.
"In the Premier League, he has 18 goals including two hat-tricks. In total, 32 goals in 49 matches is not as many as in his best seasons but enough to be among the 30 best players in the world."