Kaka vs Ronaldo, Morality vs Results

Kaka vs Ronaldo, Morality vs Results


When FIFA unveiled its nominees for its 2007 World Player of the Year award, there were some grunts and groans. It may seem obvious to reiterate that some of the most influential, important, and talented players were left out for others that failed to achieve similar greatness (Cannavaro and not Totti? Lampard but no Ibrahimovic? Ronaldinho over Fabregas?), making the honesty of the award a little less credible.

While there is dissatisfaction over the nominees, the most frustrating aspect of the list seems to be the automatic assumption that one certain Brazilian would claim the title. While Kaka is a great player, if he was the best player of 2007 is asking a different question.

In terms of the regular Scudetto season, Kaka scored 8 goals. In the Champions League, he was the lead scorer with 10 goals. Kaka won three UEFA Awards: Top Scorer, Best Forward, and Club Footballer of the Year and he was named FIFAPro’s 2007 Player of the Year. He helped lead AC Milan last season’s Champions League victory. He was largely absent in international play (he sat out of the Copa America, needing to take a well-deserved break from what is otherwise 3 full seasons of uninterrupted soccer). These stats are all relevant, as the award is FIFA World Player of the Year, not Champions League MVP (he seems to have already won that award).

Another award winning player from 2007 and presumable runner up for this award is Cristiano Ronaldo, who scored 17 goals towards Man U’s Premier League victory, and 3 for the Champions League. He was a multi-award winner: PFA’s Player of the Year, Young Player of the Year, Fan Player of the Year and the Football Writers Player of the Year. He played for Portugal. He was strong for Manchester United through their run in the Champions League that got them as far as the Semi finals.

While it is more than just awards and goals that go into both Kaka and Ronaldo’s performances last year, good arguments can be made that Kaka may not have been the best player of 2007. Even if he ends up receiving the award, there should be more dialogue as to who the better player was, and not this automatic assumption that Kaka will take the silverware. So in determining why Kaka is the clear favorite, other factors between those two players become unfortunately relevant.

Kaka Goal CelebrationAesthetically everything about Kaka makes him look, play, and act like an agent’s dream of an ideal player. He grew up in an upper middle class family. He is 25 but could easily pass for 21 in terms of looks. In terms of maturity he acts beyond his age. He has a wife (his teenage sweetheart of course) who doesn’t appear to be tabloid fodder, so it’s assumed she is not a distraction or controlling aspect of Kaka’s career (unlike the way the British WAGS tend to be portrayed). He is good looking (modeling contracts with Armani) and Brazilian (thus the automatic Joga Bonito allure). He is humble.

He is also an incredible Evangelical Christian, something that intensified after an unfortunate accident from a swimming pool that could have left him paralyzed. He attributes that healing to God and has the words “God is Faithful” stitched onto his boots. He is the youngest UN World Food Program Ambassador and gives 10% of his wages to his church. And that arm raising to the sky after goals scored is a perpetual thanks to God for allowing his recovery from his accident.

Its no secret that Kaka is a Christian — and not just religious, but close to being a zealot. While players can get penalized for stripping off their jerseys, when Kaka does it, he reveals not a bare chest but a shirt reading “I belong to Jesus.” He follows up these statements with actions though. In an interview with Champions League Magazine for the latest issue, he overtly states that he is very radical with his principles, and that if something goes against those principles, he will always refrain. To that end, he refuses to do any advertising for alcohol or cigarettes. While that seems to be logical as he is an athlete and wants to promote a healthy and active lifestyle, it is actually his devote evangelical faith that dictates that decision. He claims to have never cried over football, and he prefers to stay at home with his family in his spare time. He reads the Bible daily. He is not flashy. He is an ideal, although perhaps not realistic, footballer.

Cristiano Ronaldo, however, doesn’t seem to be such a martyr. He is also good looking but vain (sin!) — a recent injury to his face prompted him to state that he wasn’t worried and that he would soon be beautiful again. He is confident on the verge of cocky. He grew up poor. He is clearly not married. He rather hides who he dates which makes him worthy of tabloid speculation (Gemma Atkinson? Were they or weren’t they?). He pays for sex and shares those prostitutes with his roommates. He is known to be a diver. He has that whole World Cup wink mess haunting him. He cries over football (a lot). He doesn’t seem to be affiliated to any organized religion, and even if he is, he doesn’t appear to showcase that religion very openly. When he takes off his shirt, it’s to show off his abs and not his love of Jesus. He doesn’t have an official United Nations ambassadorship. He can be construed as being flashy in dress and in lifestyle. He is a stereotypical footballer.

So for these two players that were both outstanding last year, it seems that one aspect cements the differences between these two: one is an evangelical Christian and the other is not. Without that faith, what would Kaka’s everyday life be? Nothing about Ronaldo’s choices is really all that bad, but when you compare any footballer — or any average person — against Kaka and his lifestyle a la Jesus, Kaka wins. No contest.

Cristiano RonaldoOn the pitch, Ronaldo was beyond expectation last season. Off the pitch, he’s acting like a 22 year old, million-dollar paycheck, footballer. Kaka’s performance on the pitch sets him apart from some of the best footballers, but his actions off the pitch are more like an athlete who attends seminary at nights. To be sure, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being a Christian; Kaka is doing amazing things for people in need and he has a lifestyle that doesn’t hurt anyone. But neither player’s personal time should matter in terms of evaluating who was the better footballer.

As FIFA doesn’t seem to punish players for actions like Ronaldo engages, it would be assumed that they would also not reward Kaka for his choices either. FIFA is, after all, not St. Peter, and this award isn’t a morale competition, but an award being given to the best player of 2007. Lifestyle choices, whether agreed with or not, should have absolutely no bearing on how the player performs on the pitch, or how he is evaluated there from.

FIFA seem to want to cloud this award with an unspoken hint at what footballers should be doing in their spare time. Is FIFA punishing players that are not pious? Or are they quietly sending a message to footballers that FIFA will no longer just look at those 90 minutes in terms of what makes a Best Player? While it certainly discredits the award, it also unfairly punishes players for making decisions that are possibly not in accord with FIFA’s unofficial code of conduct. But if it’s unofficial, then it shouldn’t count. Especially not for this award.

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  1. You know I already agree with you on this Cherie :)

    It’s unfair that one should judge players based on anything other than results and performances, especially when the award is supposed to determine the best player on the pitch, not at home (although come to think of it, Ronny could stake a claim to the second one as well).

  2. Even when you list out their respective footballing achievements for 2007 – Kaka wins hands down. Kaka did not play in the Copa America but there was no European tournament either.
    Manchester won their domestic league whilst Milan won the Champions League. Its open to debate as to which trophy holds more merit.
    The article holds no proof and is lazy journalism based on speculation laced with a tinge of an inferiority complex towards Kaka and his “too perfect” lifestyle.
    By all means have a debate on who’s better but a crack at Fifa and Christians (no matter how you attempt to dress it up as the contrary) is pretty lame.

  3. All awards at this level are political. What difference does it make?

    Maybe ALL awards should just be voted on by the current players &/or managers themselves. It’ll be like in the field of Medicine when you have peer review articles. Doctors look for validation of their work from other PRACTICING doctors. So why not do it for footballers? They would have the best idea of who has the best abilities & who is maximizing their potential.

    Take the bureaucrats & the fans out of it. These groups would not have a clue.

  4. I take it you’re not Christian.Of all past winners your ronaldo’s ronaldihno’s zidane’s which one of them were angelic like Kaka?None even worse someone like Henry(the ultimate sportsman) was beaten to by a certain Ronaldihno.

  5. Tony,

    the proof is in a simple comparison, the number of matches in the two competitions. If you want to count match-winning contributions, who made more of them?

  6. yes the fifa might be biased in the fact that they give out awards not just based on the pitch but also on the conduct and behaviour etc etc but why even bother talking up religion and fifa to see who should win the award between kaka and cristiano ronaldo when kaka has been the better player on the pitch. period.

    its not as simple as comparing the number of matches. winning against the likes of wigan and fulham (no disrespect to these teams) or winning against the likes of liverpool and bayern to win the trophy must also be considered. and if u want to count the no. of matches as well as the match winning contributions, u might want to consider a ratio coz obvy more no. of matches r played in the league. so yes the comparison is still open to debate…

  7. Cherie, you seem to idolise Kaka’. The truth is that he does dive, and the reason you probably do not hear about his parties is because they are covered in Italian rather than English; in the same way, Italians would not know about Ronaldo’s forays with the escort girls.

    Maybe Kaka is not a wild animal, but their decision will be based on diving habbits, goal celebrations and presence in the press rather than prostitutes, bing bilng or cockyness. It is only right, they want to give children the right idea of what football should be like when the condidates are so very close in terms of quality.

    I do have a slight suspicion that Kaka will take this one home but wrongly so. Ronaldo does much more for entertainment and is equally good but (almost) everybody in Europe seems to have something against English footy so there is no chance for winker unfortunately.

  8. I agree with Andrei. Though I have no objection to either Kaka or Ronaldo taking the crown but I do not like the judges to base the result on off-pitch antics (that is personal lifestyle).

    Maradona is a supremely talented player but to deprive him of honors because he take drugs or he use the occasional handballs is not right.

  9. Just to add a little bit of statistics

    Ronaldo played 58 matches, scored 26 goals and had 20 assists if your include internationals, where he played 9 matches and scored 3 goals and had 0 assists.

    Kaka played 54 matches, scored 21 goals and had 10 assists if you include internationals, where he played 8 matches, scored 3 goals and had 1 assist.

    Obviously Ronaldo’s stats are way better than Kaka’s.

    Oh and btw… Kaka is a great rolemodel, but sounds really boring.

  10. A little bonus info:

    The only player to even come close to the stats of Ronaldo (at least in any of the major leagues) is…

    Wayne Rooney who played 56 matches, scored 24 goals and had 14 assists if you include internationals, where he played 5 matches, scored 1 goal and had 0 assists.

  11. There are two separate questions here: One is whether Kaka deserves to win the award over Ronaldo, and the other is whether the reason Kaka is favored to win the award is because of his Christianity and moral lifestyle.

    The answer to the first question seems to me unequivocally to be no. As good as Kaka is, he’s gotten a bit overrated, and not only Ronaldo but several other players seem to be better choices for the award this year.

    But as for the second question–whether Kaka is favored over Ronaldo because he’s such a moral person–I can’t see any reason to assume that’s the case, and I can’t see any evidence in this article to justify the accusation. The main thing for me is that past winners of the award clearly haven’t been chosen because they’re good role models (Cannavaro had the doping scandal, Ronaldo and Zidane have well-publicized shortcomings, and the only thing angelic about Ronaldinho is his smile). So what’s changed?

    Is there any reason to think that FIFA have suddenly decided to favor Christian philanthropists in handing out this award? Or is it more reasonable to think that Kaka is favored for some other reason–for instance, that he enjoyed a huge publicity spike after he comprehensively outplayed Ronaldo during the Man U-Milan Champions League ties? Where’s the smoke, if there’s a fire here?

  12. Tomas what about Totti’s stats and also Messi’s. I want Ronaldo to win it as being good in 8 matches is not a year. If feel that the best 3 players in 2007 were:

    1. C. Ronaldo
    2. Kaka
    3. Messi

    but i think it will be:

    1. Kaka
    2. Messi
    3. C. Ronaldo

    C. Ronaldo did not win the World Cup young best player, even though he was because of his antics, i feel the same will be applied by suits in the award.

  13. i dont agree with this article but i think it is very well written and thought out i just dont agree with what your saying. Kaka is an unselfish player who still shines on the pitch he is fantastic

  14. ENR – Sorry, completely forgot about Totti, whose stats are absolutely up there with the best.

    He played 56 matches, scored 33 goals and had 15 assists including internationals, where he played 7 matches, scored 1 goal and had 4 assists.

    Messi’s stats aren’t quite up there.

    Thanks for remingding me about Totti.

  15. Bottom line is that Ronaldo was the favourite going into the United v Milan semifinal, where he dissappeared and Kaka played well. The court of public opinion then swayed to Kaka’s side.

    If the award is supposed to be for the footballer who did the most on the pitch over the course of the year, Ronaldo should win hands down. But he won’t. Good news for him is that he’s 22, and has plenty of time to get one in the future.

  16. i think football wise, when ronaldo becomes older, he MIGHT become a better player than ronaldinho or kaka but as of right now, it seems as if he is just too cocky and fool of himself to ever get to that spot. i think religion, personality, and everything matters. I’m sure that Kaka thinks that God has helped him somehow and I’m sure it has affected his mind somehow (in my opinion, to do better) and Ronaldo doesn’t have or do what Kaka has done. I really respect him for being such a great player but when it comes to his real personality or other things about him-outside of soccer-ronaldo is just too selfish and conceded. and i do think that it will affect him somehow one day.

    im a manchester united fan and i really hope ronaldo will mature and realize the importance in life and become a better role model to all the kids who look up to him.

  17. Great article, Cherie.

    Spiral Architect made a good point about peer-based evaluations.

    Ricardo Kaka’ was named the 2007 Player of the Year by FifPro, which is an organization of football players from around the world. According to Football Italia, there are over 57,500 members.

    Here is a link to their site:


  18. ive actually never took any real notice to Ronaldo (apart from the world cup) but this article makes him seem a real scum bag? im sure thats not what you wanted

  19. Tomas, of course you would ignore Dider Droga’s amazing season, which cemented him as THE #1 striker in the Premiership.

    64 matches, 39 goals, 9 assists. Scored in every competition bar the Community Shield.

    Rooney is good, and I would love to see a match with Rooney and Drogba up top, but Drogba by far had one of the best statistical seasons of any offensive player last year, if not the best.

    Now, back to the real point:

    Cherie, one of the best articles that I have read in a long time. Certainly, Ronaldo’s negative media image in the past several years and his attitude on the pitch factor into people’s perceptions surrounding him.

    As a Chelsea supporter, I can admit that Manchester United wouldnot have beaten us to the title without Ronaldo last year, and he is certainly more valuable to his club than Kaka. I believe Ronaldo’s success in the Premiership was much more extraordinary than Kaka, and Ronaldo probably does derserve the award over Kaka. However, I believe that this will not happen.

  20. Brandon – I don’t think you know anything about Ronaldo’s personality. It’s probably the worst load of bs, I’ve read today… judging a person by what you read. Did you know, he’s come from a very rough childhood, and that he’s fought really hard growing up… I seriously doubt he’s as cocky as you say.

    And if you judge by the way he looks on the pitch, you’re very superficial. Yes he may look as if he’s the best in the world, but he has to. He cannot let people bully him. And if you watched Man Utd’s matches, you’d know about all the rough tackles, he gets… unlike anyone else. He has to look as if the physical game isn’t getting to him, and frankly I don’t think it is.

    Don’t write such bs about people you genuinely don’t know.

  21. Beachryan, you might want to take notice that the whole Man Utd team struggled against Milan. Whether it was because Ronaldo did not play well, or Ronaldo did not play well because hardly anybody else did is debatable.

    If FIFA (or the beurocrats who will be voting) take this into consideration then they lose all credibility.

    I have a question though. How do you determine whether a player has been fantastic at the end of a year? Obviousy the performances of the previous year and same season (August – December 2006) will play some part in the end decision even though they should not.

    Also how do you determine whether Casillas, who has kept x clean sheets during a year, has been more valuable then Ronaldo who has scored y goals (where y>x) during the same period of time?

    What I am trying to say is that these awards are the biggest load of shite in football. Changes need to be made in order to make them credible and deserved.

  22. Good analysis…. even though I do not believe that one should be so obsessed with religion (the shirt, 10% pay) but I think Kaka’s swimming pool incident clarifies his action.
    Even though, I am a red devil, I do think that Kaka deserves the award on the fact that he behaves like a model for other people, both on and off the pitch (except for his dive against B. Munich)

  23. Well for me, the main difference is the class they have on pitch who make Kaka a clear favourite. Ronaldo is somebody who piss people off, so FIFA members too. Kaka is a natural and a decent choice.

  24. I like the article. I recall something about Ronaldo being nominated best young player in the World Cup 2006 until the incident against England and then the later antics against France apparently diminished his chance. We must remember FIFA’s emphasis on the fair play side of the game. That said, I also remember having a wager on Milan to beat Bayern Munich at home in the Quarter-Finals last term, while I had Liverpool to win at PSV the same night. Liverpool won, Kaka blatantly dived with the game at 1-1 to win the penalty and put Milan a goal in front (though this was equalised by Daniel Van Buyten in the 93rd minute and I lost my bet anyway, such is life).

    I also admire the form of Ronaldo, as much as I dislike his morals on the football field. The way he won people over with his talent reminded me of Beckham after the 1998 incident with Diego Simeone. I would rather watch Ronaldo than Kaka, yet principally I would point to two key matches last season.

    Remember the Champions League Semi-Finals? Kaka grabbed a brace at Old Trafford which effectively made United’s task from a molehill into a mountain. Plus there was the return, where Kaka had a big role to play in dismantling United’s defence, albeit missing Ferdinand and playing with a patched up Vidic, if memory serves, or vice versa.

    I also remember the way Kaka tormented Celtic to put them out of the competition at the San Siro in extra time. I think Ronaldo is more technically gifted than Kaka, but I think Kaka was such a major factor in getting Milan to the trophy that it would make it difficult for the voters to ignore him on a stage like that.

  25. Disagree with the words about Cannavaro over Totti though. For me, Totti has always underperformed on the European and International scene, the big, big games. Cannavaro and Gattuso, who I can’t believe nobody has mentioned, were colossal for Italy in the World Cup.

  26. kaka is a better player than ronaldo, he is more of a team player and bring results while ronaldo likes to dribble and sometmes selfishly and cannot produce the results as kaka

  27. What crap. I’m no pious religious fanatic, but if someone who is in the public eye is, whats wrong with it? This is cheap journalism. Regardless of who wins(which I think kaka has already won) the religious part shouldnt be used as an angle to discredit a winner.
    And Ahmed, I just cant believe you “agree” with this. I’ve asked this many times, why dont you just add “Manchester united biased articles are extremely welcome” in the name of this site somewhere……….

  28. This article stinks. See, Kaka has not been given the award just because of his humanitarian off pitch antics (if you may call them so), but has been given for his SHEER brilliance. I take it that you see only EPL and not the Serie A. All christiano Ronaldo does is to do amazingly fast stepovers and what not, and cross and head really well. Some people may think thats all there is to football!
    But I beg to disagree. There is something called instinctive, intelligent and spontaneity in Kaka’s play. You can never say what he’s going to do. Ronaldo crosses or does step overs. Kaka takes it past the opponent and leaves him for dead. Remember the 360 he did against Xabi Alonso in the Champion’s League Final? Maybe C Ronaldo scores more goles. But thats only due to the fact that he’s not man marked in England. See what Kaka could do when he wasnt man marked in the champions league? Get him to EPL or La Liga, and he’ll rival Ronaldo in all your so called “better points”. Ronaldo is good, but hes not the best, like Kaka.

  29. i comment that kaka to me awarded the fiffa world best player .his a very high tactical perfomance that messi cannot not do.messi is still a young player that is growing i don`t known no why we talking about footballers that we have observed playing for years.drogba is the african best player for now, been the european best striker that has playing for years.c.ronaldo is also nice player with tactics.1.kaka`

  30. While C.Ronaldo is a great player who scores goals and driblles, ask any coach or playmaker of the game they will prefer Kaka over C.Ronaldo. Kaka is a smart and creative player that makes everyone in the team look good. He made C.Ronaldo looked pathetic during their clash in Champion League.

    The football we’re suppose to talk about here is an 11 men sports, Not clown dancing tricks show performed best by the freestyle street footballer.

    And since when Maradona’s words matter? He was really good in football, but he sucks in everything else. XD

  31. It is hard to compare players when they do not play in the same position. Put Kaka on the wings and he will be lost unlike Ronaldo who was top scorer from that area. Put Ronaldo in AMC where Kaka plays and you will not see Ronaldo dictating play as Kaka does wonderfully. I cannot compare them but both are excellent. Ronaldo is more skillful and techinically gifted and can score set peices and headers aswell as long range efforts plus close shots but Kaka is the heart beat of Milan. Both perform for their country unlike Lampard and Gerrard so that is why they are going for the awards.

  32. man kaka is the best and there should be no arguments on that. the way he plays and one goal that i never forget is the one he scored aganist MAN UT . he is the fifa player of the yesr and is a 100 times better than c.ronaldo and the others.

  33. Why do I get the impression that almost everybody rates Ronaldo by the Milan vs Utd game?

    If Kaka is so much better than Ronaldo, wtf is Milan doing in 12th place? Kaka stands out because he is imo the only good player in an average team which are currently way overrated because of their rich history. Nothing more. (How come he does not really shine for Brazil?).

    I’m not sure what the reasons were, but Kaka got favoured. Over the course of the year, Ronaldo was the better player. Considering the circumstances surrounding his professional and personal life during that time, he should have gotten it. Maybe next year, but somehow I doubt it. (If Sheva moves back to Milan, I think he will get the award next year).

  34. Kaka was the best, without a doubt. Without him, Milan would have been nothing. Sure, Pirlo is good. Gattuso is a tough tackler, etc.. etc.. but when Kaka has been injured this year, Milan has been losing to bottom of the table teams. Without Kaka’s long runs, dribbling skills, and superb passing and teamwork, Milan are nothing. Plus, in the CL when Milan played ManU, Kaka schooled CRonaldo like a little schoolgirl. Without CRonaldo, ManU would still be a good team. Without Kaka, Milan would barely be mid table.

  35. man , first dont compare kaka wid ronaldo , itz wel known to everyone dat Ronaldo iz much more gud lukin and among d 2 bst players in d wrld wd messi….z i wud rate dem as C.Ronaldo or Messi
    . .

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