PSG tried to influence Ballon d'Or organisers to ensure Lionel Messi's win: Report

Messi spent two years in the French capital after leaving Barcelona

messi-press-conference-ap Argentina's Lionel Messi attends a press conference on the eve of the group C World Cup match against Saudi Arabia, in Doha | AP

French champions Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) have been reportedly accused of lobbying the Ballon d'Or organisers to ensure the coveted award went to Lionel Messi during his World Cup winner's time with the club. 

Argentine skipper Messi spent two years in the French capital after leaving his childhood club FC Barcelona in 2021. Messi, who currently plays for Inter Miami in the MLS, holds the record of winning the Ballon d'Or eight times -- the most by any player. 

For the unversed, the Ballon d'Or is presented by French news magazine France Football. Messi's stature as 'GOAT' was solidified by his recurring reception of the same, among other factors. When he lifted his seventh Ballon d'Or in 2021, Leo was part of PSG -- the most successful team in France.

"The 65th France Football Ballon d'Or has been awarded to Leo Messi. Winning the prestigious award for a record seventh time, the Paris Saint-Germain striker is continuing to make history. The 34-year-old Argentinian prodigy received the trophy for the best footballer of the year at the Ballon d'Or 2021 ceremony held on Monday 29 November at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris," a release published on PSG's website on November 30, 2021, said.

According to news reports, PSG tried to influence Pascal Ferre, the former editor-in-chief of France Football and organiser of the Ballon d'Or, to ensure Messi won the award while he was part of the Ligue 1 team. A player belonging to their squad winning the award means a lot to football clubs as it can bring in crucial fortunes in terms of marketing and image.

According to French media Le Monde, a judicial investigation opened by the Paris prosecutor's office in 2022 showed that PSG's communications director between 2017 and 2022 Jean-Martial Ribes, its owner, the Qatar Sports Investments (QSI), lobbyist Tayeb Benabderrahmane and former French anti-terrorist police officer turned PSG employee Malik Nait-Liman were the major players involved in "affairs" surrounding the club. When Jean-Martial Ribes's activities were focused, it was learnt that "Ribes requested to obtain tickets for PSG football matches by journalists, politicians, elected officials, members of ministerial cabinets or the presidency, artists," the report said.

More details are awaited.

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