Maradona claims Messi's Golden Ball award just 'a marketing plan'

Nothing could console Lionel Messi. (Getty Images)

FIFA awarded Lionel Messi the World Cup’s Golden Ball, given to the tournament’s best player. named Argentina’s catalyst the player of the tournament as well.

Argentinian legend Diego Maradona vehemently disagrees with both.

“Messi? I would give him heaven if possible,” Maradona told South American TV station Telesur after Argentina lost Sunday’s final 1-0 to Germany. “But it’s not right when someone wins something that he shouldn’t have won just because of some marketing plan.” 

That’s a pretty damning charge against FIFA from the 1986 World Cup winner. Messi’s four goals all came in the group stages (against relatively weak opponents, at that), but he did proffer the game-winning assist to Angel di Maria against Switzerland in the first knockout round. Messi was largely held in check after that, although his mere presence consumed opposing defenders and opened up chances for Argentina’s other strikers. It's not Messi's fault guys like Gonzalo Higuain or Rodrigo Palacio didn't come through.

Certainly Golden Boot winner James Rodriguez deserved consideration as did Germany’s Thomas Muller, but Messi, who was described as “water in the desert” by his coach, took home the hardware.

In Messi’s defense, the award, as evident by the expression on his face as he was accepting it, was little consolation after his side conceded the late goal to Mario Gotze. “The Golden Ball means very little to me at this moment. It is great pain," he said. "We played something important. The country was watching and we wanted to give them this happiness. For them and us.” 

Messi had his chances, including one slim-angled attempt against Germany’s brick wall keeper Manuel Neuer, but he couldn't put it on frame. Despite Messi’s brilliance (coupled with FIFA’s dubious history), perhaps Maradona has a point. 

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