And the Ballon d’Or goes to…. COVID-19

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France Football has cancelled the Ballon d’Or for this season citing a “lack of sufficient fair conditions” across the sport owing to the coronavirus pandemic.

Organisers France Football said the awarding of the prize, which has been given out every year since 1956, would be “not worthy” of the trophy’s history.

The year 2020 has been a tough year for everyone and cannot be treated as an ordinary year.

There has been lots of complexities and doubts regarding the credibility of the players with respect to statistics and performances. So when in doubt, it is better to abstain than to persist.

Ballon d’Or trophy conveys  values – like Exemplarity, Solidarity and Responsibility – rather than merely sporting excellence alone.

The Ballon d’Or story is too precious to take the risk of damaging it with a wobbly exercise. In these turbulent times, taking a break is a luxury and an invaluable necessity. So that football, as a whole, regains momentum, passion and emotion.

Exceptional circumstances

The organisers said : “We did not want to put an indelible asterisk on the prize list as ‘a trophy won in exceptional circumstances due to the health crisis of COVID-19’.

“Because the fairness that prevails for this honorary title could not be preserved, in particular at the statistical level and also in the preparation since all the aspirants to the award could not be rightly compared, some having seen their season cut radically short, others not. So how can we compare the incomparable?

“Because of our approximately 220 jurors (men and women combined) distributed around the world, some may have been distracted or diverted from their observation due to other priorities and emergencies to manage.

This is the first time since 1956 that the Ballon d’Or has taken a break. The situation does not enchant us but seems to us the most responsible and logical decision. Protecting the credibility and legitimacy of such an award also means protecting it over time.

Barcelona’s Lionel Messi won the trophy in the men’s category last year, while US striker Megan Rapinoe won the women’s category and they will continue to be entitled with it for another 12 months.

England’s Stanley Matthews was the first winner of the award when he was voted European Footballer of the Year.

Until 1995, the Ballon d’Or was only awarded to European players, when it was extended to any player from a European club.

From 2007, it was extended to footballers from the rest of the world.

The list of the 30 nominated players is drawn up by the editorial staff of the French magazine. The winner is then chosen by journalists from all over the world, with one representative from each nation.

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