Ballond'Or like any other award has its flaws but, nonetheless, I am highly doubtful that there was "conspiracy" against the Italians.
I think the controversy arises, not because of the nationalities of each respective player, but due to the fact that criteria in evaluating player and actual evaluation are individual specific and subjective.
In soccer there are too many intagibles to evaluate players objectively. For instance, would Trezeguet have scored goal had there not been fine assist from Nedved, Del Piero or Zambrotta? Probably not. And there is also a problem of giving correct weight to the contribution of players to the team cause in relative terms.
And hence, even though, I think Maldini had better season than Henry based on the criteria that his team achieved far more than Arsenal and that he was a major performer, I have no problem of accpeting that many journalist value attacking plays more than defensive stops. After all, we do live in era of democracy and freedom of expression.
Anyhow, there was only one winner regardless what would happen rest of the year once Nedved completed rout of Madrid in that glorious night in Stadio Delle Alpi. It was a game that captured world focus and Nedved simply stole the show.
Anyway my congratulation to Nedved and I am thankful of wonderful CL and League run he gave us last season!