Novak Djokovic goes to the biggest football (soccer for the American tennis fans) award event of the year thinking it’ll be fun, I assume, and drama-free. He will be handing out the award to the Women’s Ballon d’Or winner. He’s possibly the best tennis player in the history of the sport, so his stature in one sport makes sense to have him give out a major award in another, right?
Well, for many the answer is a huge no. Not that Novak Djokovic did anything wrong, you see. He simply accepted an invitation to hand out the honor. He probably didn’t know that there were no women handing out awards and that the winners on the men’s side would be given awards by other fantastic footballers.
Novak Djokovic was already in France to play the Rolex Paris Masters this week. He also took in some of the Rugby World Cup. He didn’t need to go out of his way to present at the Ballon d’Ors ceremony. And he clearly wasn’t at fault for what the Ballon d’Or organizers were thinking (or not thinking, as might be the case).
Novak Djokovic hands out an award at the Ballon d’Ors and receives some hate
Still, Djokovic seems to get backlash for a lot of things he does without any real reason. While he was likely honored to hand the award to Women’s Ballon d’Or winner Aitana Bonmati, he also didn’t make the choice to do so. That was what he was asked to do.
Meanwhile, men’s winner Lionel Messi was given the award by David Beckham. The award for top striker (the Gerd Muller Trophy) was given to Erling Haaland by Gary Lineker. And the Kopa Trophy for best performer under 21 years old went to Jude Bellingham and he was given the trophy by Eden Hazard. So male football legends gave out the awards to the men’s winners and the singular women’s winner was given her award by a tennis legend. You can see why people might get upset.
Still, none of what happened was the fault of Novak Djokovic. He simply showed up and did his job. Which is, basically, what he does in every tournament he plays in.