Manuel Neuer of Germany holds the Golden Glove trophy and Lionel Messi of Argentina holds the Golden Ball trophy. (Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Although it’s hard to imagine an illustrious organization like FIFA having ulterior motives (#sarcasm), Argentine football legend Diego Maradona is accusing the association of awarding the World Cup’s coveted “Golden Ball” award to Lionel Messi for marketing reasons. Maradona said on his television show on Telesur (via The Guardian):

“Messi? I would give him heaven if possible. But it’s not right when someone wins something that he shouldn’t have won just because of some marketing plan.”

The Golden Ball award, which is meant to go to the best player in the World Cup, is sponsored by Adidas. So is Messi. The player, who’s often hailed as the greatest of all time, has a multimillion-dollar endorsement deal with the sports apparel company.

Besides Maradona, many soccer fans also seemed suspicious of the award, which Messi was less than thrilled to receive, telling the Spanish newspaper AS (via The Guardian), “Right now I don’t care about the prize.”

What do you think? Did Messi, who scored four goals in the tournament’s group rounds, deserve the Golden Ball, or do you agree with Maradona and think FIFA gave the Adidas-sponsored award to him for marketing reasons?

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