Qatar 2022 without Ballon d’Or: Karim Benzema rewrites history

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A historic absence, unprecedented for as many as 44 years.

Karim Benzema will have to forgo the Qatar 2022 World Cup, carrying on a personal curse of his own. Indeed, the Real Madrid center forward was absent from France’s roster in 2018 as well, and he retains on his personal resume the sole participation in the 2014 World Cup. There is, however, another aspect that rewrites the statistics of soccer history, in view of the fact that the striker, who is about to turn 35, is the reigning Ballon d’Or.

Well, the fact that the Ballon d’Or does not take part in the World Cup is a colossal rarity, although the award has only been assignable to non-European footballers since 1995. In fact, since its inception in 1956, only on two other occasions had it happened that its holder did not participate in the most important tournament for national teams on the Planet.

The first case occurred back in 1958, the first edition of the World Cup after the institution of the Golden Ball. Which in that year was awarded to none other than Alfredo Di Stefano, Real Madrid’s star player who, however, could not play in Sweden since his Spain missed qualifying for the tournament. There was then no further precedent until 1978: a year of grace for Borussia Moenchengladbach and Allan Simonsen, who won the prize awarded by ‘France Football’ but did not fly to Argentina because of Denmark’s non-qualification.

Since then, all Ballon d’Or holders have then been able to treat themselves to the World Cup showcase. Until 2022 and Karim Benzema’s last-minute injury.

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