The Ballon d’Or will not be awarded this year for the first time since it was launched in 1956 due to the disruption of the 2019-20 footballing season by the coronavirus pandemic organisers France Football announced on Monday.
Barcelona forward Lionel Messi won the men’s award for a record sixth time last year with US star Megan Rapinoe claiming the women’s award.
Organisers say the “unique” nature of the 2020 footballing year with games being played behind closed doors and new formats being adopted for inter club competitions means “conditions are not met” to objectively decide deserving winners of the award which is given to the best male and female footballers.
Most leagues have resumed from the coronavirus-enforced break with games held without fans in closed stadiums while UEFA has modified the knockout stages of the Europa League and Champions League as straight one-legged knockouts to be played in venues in Germany and Portugal respectively.
“For the first time since 1956, the Ballon d’Or will take a break. There will be no 2020 edition, because it turns out, after reflection, that all the conditions are not met. We believe that such a unique year cannot – nor should – be treated as an ordinary year,” France Football editor-in-chief Pascal Ferre said in a statement on Monday.
The cancelation will be a big blow to the aspirations of Juventus star Cristiano Ronaldo to draw level with Messi on six awards apiece and also comes as a blow to Bayern star Robert Lewandowski who is seen by many as the frontrunner for this year’s award.
The Ballon d’Or has been awarded continuously for 64 years ever since Englishman and Blackpool legend Sir Stanley Mathews won the inaugural edition in 1956.
Many will feel the decision to cancel the award this year to be overly drastic given that only the French Ligue 1 was truncated out of Europe’s top five leagues although the Belgian and Dutch top flights were also called off amid the pandemic.
France Football editor-in-chief Pascal Ferre statement in full reads:
“For the first time since 1956, the Ballon d’Or will take a break. There will be no 2020 edition, because it turns out, after reflection, that all the conditions are not met. We believe that such a unique year cannot – nor should – be treated as an ordinary year.
In sporting terms, only two months (January and February), out of the eleven generally required to form an opinion and decide between the best (s), it is far too little to gauge and judge, given that the other matches then took place – or will take place – in other conditions (in camera, five replacements, European Final 8 in a single match) which are too far from the usual panorama.
Finally, the equity that prevails for this honorary title would not be in order, especially in terms of accounting and preparation since all the aspirants to the award could not be housed in the same boat, some having seen their season cut. So how do you compare? To avoid overly convoluted calculations and projections, we chose the less bad of the options.
This decision, which was taken of course with all the components of the Group, does not delight us but seems to us the most responsible. Protecting the credibility and legitimacy of such an award also means ensuring that it is irreproachable over time.
The big family of football and enthusiasts will meet in 2021 around the Golden Ball, to reconnect with the cheerfulness that surrounds the ceremonies as we have been able to live them in recent years.”
In the place of the Ballon d’Or this year, Ferre announced a “France Football Dream Team” to be revealed at the end of the year.
The magazine’s jury of 180 will elect history’s best team from a shortlist of five players in each position.
“Instead of the usual 4 winners (male and female Ballon d’Or, Kopa and Yachine Trophies), France Football will nominate eleven at the end of the year, with the revelation of the all-time team elected by the usual Ballon jury. some 180 jurors from around the world.
“The principle: from a list of contenders from all eras, drawn up by the editorial staff of FF, each of the jurors must choose, post by post, the eleven players from their Dream Team. This legendary formation will be revealed on the various media of L’Équipe and France Football.”