German media questions Ballon d'Or as Manuel Neuer finishes third

Bayern Munich honorary president Franz Beckenbauer summed up the mood in much of the German media as he described the result of the Ballon d'Or World Player of the Year vote as "unjust."

Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, who played a starring role for Germany as they clinched the 2014 World Cup, collected 15.72 percent of the votes, finishing third behind Cristiano Ronaldo, with 37.66 percent, and Lionel Messi, with 15.76 percent, as coaches, players and selected journalists cast their ballots.

Beckenbauer, who won the World Cup as both player and coach with West Germany, said in his role as a pundit for Sky: "At this vote, success apparently does not matter, only presence."

That was a view echoed across several German newspapers on Tuesday morning, with Die Welt calling the vote a "bad joke" and arguing that FIFA would rather the "better entertainer" -- as opposed to the better footballer -- won the accolade.

Votes were cast between Oct. 28 and Nov. 21 last year, and Die Welt suggested that the timeframe, as well as voters' love for "the spectacle," had cost the Germany No. 1.

The paper added that Messi and Ronaldo might "become the first footballers to appear in the shows of Las Vegas after their careers. You can very well picture them dribbling with trained lions and seals for a lot of money."

Kicker suggested that, above all else, Ronaldo's "dominance as a worldwide brand" ensured the Real Madrid star took the award for a second consecutive year. It also noted, though, that "the performances of a goalkeeper and an attacker can't really be compared."

Der Spiegel argued that "now would have been the right time to honour a goalkeeper at the highest level for his performance," and said the decision sent out the signal that "keepers just don't have the esteem, the lobbying powers or the big-name status of outfield players such as Ronaldo or Messi."

FAZ, writing under the headline "A victory for the brand Ronaldo," said: "What made the Germans strong on the pitch weakened them during the vote. There was no price for teamwork in Zurich."

Bayern sporting director Matthias Sammer also felt Neuer deserved the award, but told kicker on Tuesday that the club were happy to congratulate Ronaldo.

"It is how it is, even though we see it differently," Sammer said. "To me, Manuel Neuer is the greatest of all."

Bayern CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge added on the club's official website that they are "unbelievably proud" of the goalkeeper, adding: "It's fantastic that, after Franck Ribery last year, a Bayern Munich player has been named one of the three best footballers in the world."

Bayern striker Robert Lewandowski, meanwhile, has expressed his regret at voting for Ronaldo ahead of Neuer.

"It was a mistake to vote for Ronaldo," the Poland international, who left Borussia Dortmund in the summer, said in kicker. "Today, I would clearly vote Neuer, but I voted back someday back in August (sic) and would vote differently today."

Germany boss Joachim Low, who was named World Coach of the Year, said he was "a bit disappointed" for Neuer but told FAZ: "You also have to admit that Ronaldo and Messi are two outstanding players, who score 50, 60 goals year in, year out. All three of them would have deserved the accolade."

Neuer was also philosophical about finishing third, saying on the Bayern website that he was happy to savour a "fantastic 2014" in which he also claimed the Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal.

He added on the German FA website: "I was always aware that it was going to be difficult to beat the strikers. Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi made their mark on world football last year. As a goalkeeper it's more difficult to do that.

"When a game of football is on, the first thing that anyone asks is who scored the goals and not about how the goalkeeper has performed. I don't think that'll change."

He continued: "I'm a good sport and I picked up an award anyway -- I was named the goalkeeper in the team of the year.

"It was a special evening. Us Germans picked up a lot of awards, so maybe a personal victory was a bit too much to ask for. Being in the top three isn't just for me, it's for all goalkeepers. I'm proud about this. The nomination is also for goalkeepers who performed well in previous years.

"It's a year that I'll have good memories of when I grow older and look back at my career. It's certainly something that will be difficult to improve on."