The controversy ignited by France Football’s award of this year’s Golden Ball to Italy captain and Real Madrid defensive back Fabio Cannavaro just won’t die down (see Shourin Roy’s post below).
In addition to Johan Cruyff and Michel Platini — both partial to Henry, E’to or Ronaldinho — Italy’s Mexico 1970 “golden boy” Gianni Rivera has also weighed in, saying the award should’ve gone to Italy goalie Gigi Buffon (proving it’s not only World Cup-envy that is making people question Cannavaro’s title). But that’s just the celebrity experts –just imagine the feelings of millions of resentful French fans, especially after Cannavaro’s embarrassing performance against the revenge-seeking Blues in Italy’s 3-1 Euro qualifier loss at Stade de France…
Nobody can dispute that the France-Italy rivalry is a major element in the hard feelings toward Cannavaro. Rivera even says the France Football award was given to Cannavaro, not Buffon, because the French didn’t want to give the award to a player in the Italian leagues…
The Neapolitan mastiff first came to international attention in 1998, when he helped the Italy defense keep a superior French side to a 0-0 draw in the France ‘98 World Cup quarterfinals, despite a broken cheekbone courtesy of an elbow-to-the-face from a frustrated Stephane Guivarc’h (the home side ended up winning 4-3 on penalties and going on to defeat Brazil in the finals). But Canna got a chance to return the favor this in this year’s World Cup final when he wacked Thierry Henry in the back of the head in a tough obstructive tackle after barely a minute of play. Perhaps that’s what he meant when he said Italy needed to be a more “cynical” side to win the Cup?
And more fuel has been added to the fire by the recent appearance of a 1999 video – shot by Cannavaro himself in a Moscow hotel room – of the Parma medical team injecting performance-boosting drugs into the arm of the then 25-year old defender on the eve of Parma’s 3-0 UEFA cup finals win against…Olympique Marseilles.

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