French media outlets Mediapart and Le Monde created waves in the football world by reporting that Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) officials allegedly attempted to influence Lionel Messi's 2021 Ballon d'Or win. Documents revealed close ties between PSG and former France Football editor-in-chief Pascal Perret, responsible for organizing the Ballon d'Or ceremony. Perret received various "gifts" from PSG, including VIP tickets, a Qatar Airways business flight, and other perks, aiming to boost Messi's chances.
The investigation implicates former PSG manager Jean Marcial Reeves, indicted for corruption, and current PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi. Messi eventually secured his 8th Ballon d'Or in 2023 after winning the 2022 World Cup, but the controversy arises as he never won a trophy during his PSG stint. This follows previous revelations that French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin aided PSG in evading taxes for Neymar's 2017 transfer.
The report details PSG's two-year effort to strengthen ties with Pascal Perret, president of France Football, the award's organizer. Perret denies the allegations, asserting Messi wasn't nominated in 2022, and he voted for Robert Lewandowski in 2021. Some "benefits" received were unrelated to Messi's PSG tenure. While Messi is not accused, his reputation is affected, fueling ongoing debates between Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo supporters.
Ronaldo's camp points to previous controversies, including Messi's 2010 Ballon d'Or win, the Qatar World Cup victory with alleged favorable penalties, Messi's involvement in the "Negreira affair" at Barcelona, and corruption accusations in South American football, securing Argentina and Messi four Copa America wins in six years. Notably, some French media outlets avoided reporting on the matter to avoid entanglement with Perret, now PSG's communications officer.