Coronavirus outbreak: Ballon d'Or canceled for the first time
Football's prestigious award Ballon d'Or will not be presented this year as the coronavirus pandemic disrupted the season midway. The France Football magazine honors a player with the award every year since Stanley Matthews clinched one in 1956. Notably, the magazine also started giving out a women's award in 2018, which has also been put on hold. Here is more.
An excerpt from France Football editor Pascal Ferre's statement
"The Ballon d'Or would have been decided over just three games. There were loads of changes (to football's rules) which are totally legitimate, but we couldn't consider this as a typical year. Exceptional circumstances led to an exceptional decision," France Football editor Pascal Ferre said.
Changes in the football season that impacted the award
Ferre stated a number of alterations in the rules (during the pandemic) impacted the award. Since the return of football season, the matches across leagues have been played behind closed doors. England's Premier League allowed to make up to five substitutions during matches for the rest of the season. Meanwhile, the European Championship and the Copa America were also postponed this year.
This history of Ballon d'Or award
The prestigious Ballon d'Or was first introduced in 1956. In 2018, it added the Ballon d'Or Feminin to reward the best football player in the women's game. Alongside the Ballon d'Or, the organization also gives an award to the best young player and best goalkeeper.
Lionel Messi won a record sixth Ballon d'Or in 2019
In 2019, Argentine legend Lionel Messi clinched his sixth Ballon d'Or, taking his overall tally to six. With the cancelation of this year's ceremony, Messi will keep the crown for another year. His rival Cristiano Ronaldo has five titles to his name. The duo would have been in contention this year as well. Meanwhile, America's Megan Rapinoe will also hold her women's title.
Ferre talks about the unfair comparison
Ferre feels the comparison wouldn't have been fair. "The equity that prevails for this honorary title will not be warranted, especially when it comes to accounting and preparation: all the award seekers will not be in the same boat, some having seen their season cut short. Therefore, how can we establish a fair comparison? We chose the least bad of the options," he added.
The organization to announce a 'Dream Team'
Instead of awarding the usual four individual trophies, the organisation will announce a "Dream Team" at the end of the year. As many as 11 players for the team will be chosen by the usual Ballon d'Or jury. Each of the 180 juries will choose the players, while the XI with most number of votes will make the final team.