Did the wrong man win the Ballon d'Or?
With Barcelona players having a stranglehold on the final three-man shortlist for the new-look Fifa Ballon d'Or, there was saturation coverage in Spain of Monday's gala in Zurich.
Six television stations across Spain, as well as many internet sites, showed the event live but commentators, almost to a man and woman, were surprised when Lionel Messi was announced as the winner
In a close contest, Messí got 22.65% of the votes from the captains, coaches and journalists from Fifa's national federations, while Andres Iniesta finished second with 17.36% and Xavi Hernandez got 16.48%.
Even Messi himself, looking just ever so slightly uncomfortable in his Dolce & Gabbana suit, seemed rather embarrassed at the outcome.
Never the most verbose of individuals, he was almost lost for words at the presentation.concerned.
Messi receives his award. Photo: Getty Images
"I'm happy but I didn't expect it because everyone had been talking so much about Xavi and Andres," said Messi later, after collecting his thoughts. "They also deserved it for the wonderful year they had. They won the World Cup, which usually goes a long way to deciding who wins this award, and they both had big parts to play in that. That's why I thought one of them would be going up to collect the trophy. It was a wonderful surprise."
There had been the widespread assumption - very wrong as it turned out - that either Iniesta or Xavi would become the first Spanish-born winner of football's top individual prize since Luis Suarez won the old-style Ballon D'Or in 1960.
"Iniesta is the favourite," predicted the Barcelona-based sports daily El Mundo Deportivo on its front page on Monday. The rest of the Spanish media generally agreed, although public sentiment seemed to go with Xavi. A recent poll in the respected magazine Don Balon said 62% of the public thought Xavi should take the prize. Other polls last weekend broadly concurred.
Not surprisingly, there was more than a modicum of outrage at the result on Tuesday morning, with Spanish sports newspaper Marca proclaiming Messi as "an unjust winner", although anger was not levelled at the player himself.
The Argentine's fantastic skills and 34 goals, which gave him the European Golden Boot last season, would make him a worthy winner in most other years. However, many in Spain and elsewhere feel he was the least likely of the Barca trio to win this time around.
Spain captain Iker Casillas, who was also at the gala after being included in Fifa's Team of the Year, added his two-centimos worth and backed his compatriots, grumbling that the outcome was "a bit disappointing for Spaniards".
It was not only in Spain where there was an adverse reaction to the result. Italian sports newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport made its feelings clear with its front page headline on Tuesday: "Messi? Nooo!"
Spaniards may feel hard done by but the more staid mainstream El Pais newspaper broadened the debate into one of national introspection. "Spain just doesn't carry any weight in polls," ran the headline, followed by a rather self-pitying editorial that contained the line: "Perhaps we should ask why Spain has lost all the global sports polls: the 2016 Olympic Games, the 2018 World Cup, the 2010 Ballon D'Or."
Whatever the rights and wrongs of the result, Messi is the first player since Hristo Stoichkov in 1994 to take the Ballon d'Or without being on the winning team at the World Cup in the same year (Brazil's Romario won the Fifa World Player of the Year in 1994).
You could also argue it was the first genuine surprise choice in recent years, possibly since Michael Owen took the Ballon D'Or in 2001, the year Luis Figo won the Fifa version of the trophy.
At least there was nothing like as much controversy over the Coach of the Year award, even though Spain missed out again. Few pundits begrudged Jose Mourinho his honour after achieving an unprecedented treble with Inter Milan, winning the domestic league and cup double on top of the Champions League.
It in no way diminishes the achievements of Vicente Del Bosque but it was broadly accepted the Spain coach took over an already established and outstanding group of players when he succeeded Luis Aragones in 2008 in the wake of the Euro 2008 triumph.
With Messi winning for the second year - it has to be said that there are few who would disagree that he was a worthy winner 12 months ago - it once again opens up the debate about how the award is decided.
Even though the three men on the shortlist have performed outstandingly, there are many people, including myself, who were surprised that Netherlands and Inter Milan star Wesley Sneijder was not among the final trio.
It is probably the least of Fifa's worries right now, given the fallout from the decisions to award the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar respectively. However, Fifa president Sepp Blatter surely cannot be happy that many people have again been left feeling that football's world governing body falls short where credibility is concerned.