Ballon d’Or 2019: Judges accused of racism over ‘scandalous’ Sadio Mane voting

Tom Kershaw
The Independent

Former Newcastle and Aston Villa full back Habib Beye accused the Ballon d’Or 2019 jury of racism after Sadio Mane placed fourth at the awards yesterday.

Mane received 347 points in the voting system, behind now six-time winner Lionel Messi (686), Virgil van Dijk (679) and Cristiano Ronaldo (476).

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However, speaking to Canal+, Beye claimed that Mane didn’t finish higher because he is African and labelled the result as “a scandal, pure and simple”.

“Could you say that Messi is one of the greatest players in the history of football? Yes,” Beye said. “Could you say that Messi is the greatest current footballer? Yes.

“Could you say that Messi had the best 2019? No… Maybe people will see this as victim culture. But he [Mane] is African and that is why he is fourth. You can look at it in every way, but that is why he is fourth.

“Did Virgil van Dijk have a better season than Sadio Mane? Jurgen Klopp said recently that he thought so. I watched Liverpool in the Premier League and Champions League because I commentate on both competitions for here [Canal +]. I am Senegalese, I support Sadio Mane, but at one point or another you have to be pragmatic and honest in what you say.

“Whoever tells me that van Dijk had a better season than Mané, give me your criteria please. Speak with me, and we can debate.

“Messi is certainly the best player in the world right now, when we watch him, we are enthralled, me first in that. Except that Messi disappeared during the Champions’ League semi-final at Anfield. At the same moment, Mane and the others went into the final, won the tournament… to see Mane fourth is a scandal, pure and simple.”

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