There’s a bit of a to-do regarding the awarding of the Ballon d’Or Femenin to Aitana Bonmati. Why, you ask? Because the award was presented by Novak Djokovic. What’s the problem, you ask?
It’s an interesting situation and reading comments on the story I’m reminded of the reverse standards many people have these days. It’s not really a matter of right or wrong, it’s a matter of who is complaining. If the person I agree with is aggrieved, they are right and vice-versa. Let’s get into it.
2023 Ballon d’Or
The ceremony involves passing out awards to the best and brightest in futbol, or soccer as we know it here in the United States. There are eight awards presented during the ceremony. The Ballon d’Or and the Ballon d’Or Femenin for the player of the year both men and women.
Additional awards are the Kopa for the best-performing player under 21, the Yashin for the best-performing goal-keeper, Gerd-Muller for best striker, the Socrates for most humanitarian player, and the Men’s and Women’s Club of the year trophies.
I find it relatively interesting that the Kopa, Yashin, and Gerd-Muller awards do not have female equivalents. I wrote an article about gender neutral awards back in 2017 and it’s a subject of interest although I’m not going to spend much time on it today. I do think they should either include a female award or consider female candidates for the existing awards. No women were nominated for the Kopa and Yashin and the Gerd-Muller does not even consider them eligible.
The Main Issue with this Year’s Ballon d’Or
The issue people have with this year’s ceremony is the choice of Novak Djokovic, a non-futbol player and a man, to give out the Feminin Ballon d’Or.
Those on one side of the issue consider this a deliberate affront while those on the other side don’t see a problem with it. I’m in between, as usual. I doubt the award’s committee even considered the question very much and didn’t make the decision as a deliberate insult.
That being said, it is insulting. In what other award’s ceremony is the person handing out the most important trophy someone who has nothing to do with the industry in question? Certainly David Beckham, who gave out the Ballon d’Or to Lionel Messi this year is a celebrity on the order of Djokovic but he’s a futbol player.
Adding insult to injury is the fact that after reading Bonmati’s name as the winner, Djokovic simply walked to the side and allowed her to accept the award without handing it to her. That’s on Djokovic, not the committee. He’s a disciplined and dedicated athlete who takes his profession seriously. If he’s going to be giving out an award, he should know enough to hand it to the recipient. It’s common courtesy.
I don’t think this is an enormous issue nor do I think the feminists of the world need to organize protests and call for boycotts. I do think the committee of the Ballon d’Or needs to rethink their policies and an apology is not out of line. Next year I’d like to see a change.