Cristiano Ronaldo's decision to skip the Ballon d'Or ceremony for the second year in a row on Monday drew widespread criticism, but a former winner of the award has insisted the Juventus star's action was not disrespectful.
In his weekly column for Betfair, 1999 Golden Ball winner Rivaldo defended Ronaldo's decision to not attend the prestigious gala event after the five-time winner was criticised for his absence.
"There are many rumours on why Cristiano Ronaldo didn't show up to the Ballon d'Or awards, but I don't consider it to be disrespectful to his fellow footballers," Rivaldo wrote.
"We're not even sure why he didn't show up. He probably didn't like that he wasn't in the running to win it, but this isn't a new situation.
"Even Lionel Messi has missed previous ceremonies for the same reason. When a player feels that the result is unfair to him, you can't blame him for not coming to the event, especially if they're going to show bad feelings about it in public."
Click through the gallery below to see the top 15 ranked players for this year's Ballon d'Or:
Rivaldo also believes that Ronaldo, who ended third in the voting, should have finished one place higher, ahead of Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk.
"Ronaldo had a great season, by winning the (UEFA) Nations League and probably felt he deserved to be at least second," the 2002 FIFA World Cup winner added.
"For me, I think he deserved to be second ahead of Virgil van Dijk too. I know he (Van Dijk) is a great defender but what makes football so beautiful is the goals, the dribbling and brilliant moments from the attackers.
"It's unfair for goalkeepers and defenders, but it was always like this and it's tough to change that."
Ronaldo's decision not to stay away from the Ballon d'Or gala stemmed from his commitment to attend the Serie A awards ceremony that was held on the same night, during which he received the league's MVP and Forward of the Year awards for the 2018/19 campaign.
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