Written by By R and O’s Veronique Piel, CNN
Alexander Wang is not excited about the upcoming FIFA Ballon d’Or awards ceremony. “Sometimes I go to a banquet and I ask if they all run around — or if they run to play,” he says with a laugh. Wang, who runs the Paris-based premium streetwear label Balenciaga and owns a stake in the Swedish basketball team, was not pleased to learn this week that the winner of the annual award — held in Zurich on December 1 — will be revealed on the telecast by Ballon d’Or creator (and teammate of his) Cristiano Ronaldo.
“It’s kind of a big thing,” he adds. “I didn’t really know why people [are] doing that, because I’m not a soccer fan at all.”
Alexander Wang Credit: Josh Drake/Balenciaga
World soccer’s governing body currently has an unparalleled monopoly over the ballon d’or, and Wang, who won the accolade in 2007, isn’t the only one to make it clear that he thinks the organization overstepped its bounds in choosing the man who will sit on the gold statue awarded to the 2018 FIFA Ballon d’Or winner on December 1. But the word has yet to filter through to Ronaldo himself.
“He was not aware of it,” says Balenciaga PR director Caro Rospigliosi, who was speaking on behalf of Wang. “I was sort of like a mother hen and I was like, ‘Cristiano, can you do it tomorrow? But I think he’s not going to do it tomorrow.”
As it turns out, the Ballon d’Or now falls under the jurisdiction of soccer’s governing body, UEFA — European governing body for soccer — which, according to Rospigliosi, “is thinking about it quite carefully.”
“It’s going to be an important moment for Balenciaga,” Wang says of his brand’s global exposure. “I think they should be really careful to respect the gift that they gave us (for winning).”
Alexander Wang, front row, during the Paris fashion week men’s show Credit: FRANCOIS GUILLOT/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
Ronaldo, who was supposed to jet off to Qatar for media day, is set to recover from a knee injury that has kept him out of action for Juventus for several months now. The news comes just days after the soccer team was officially branded the official jerseys of the association. According to soccer journalist Alessandro Murino, Ronaldo’s absence only leaves Victor Lindelof as the only candidate to step into the shoes of Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi, who won it an unprecedented five times from 2008 to 2014.
“He didn’t make any announcement,” Wang says of the Portuguese superstar. “We still have four more months.”
As for the other five candidates — Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Luka Modric, Antoine Griezmann and Harry Kane — Wang reveals that he doesn’t actually know who they are, nor is he particularly excited to find out. “These guys are strong players,” he says. “It’s very difficult. You can’t get a discount on something that crazy.”
Alexander Wang, far right, attends the Balenciaga fashion show in Paris on September 22, 2018. Credit: Photo: Vianney Le Caer/BFA/REX/Shutterstock
As for his future, Wang says that while he does still plan to stay involved with basketball for the next decade or so, he’s also keeping his ears open and ready to back his own brand, or perhaps an impromptu collaboration with a “younger dude” who’s been carving out a place in the pantheon of catwalk royalty.
“I still think it’s important to have a voice in the future and be involved in a bigger way,” he says. “I don’t think it’s just about the art of fashion anymore. It’s now about creativity, and always has been. It’s about inventing new things.”