The prestigious Ballon d’Or is not going to be awarded this yr as a result of the coronavirus pandemic has disrupted the soccer season. Awarded by France Football journal, the Ballon d’Or has been given out yearly since Stanley Matthews received the primary one in 1956. Lionel Messi has received it a record six instances — yet one more than very long time rival Cristiano Ronaldo.
The journal began giving out a girls’s award in 2018, however that has additionally been placed on maintain.
“It’s such a strange year that we couldn’t treat it as an ordinary one. Let’s say that we started talking about (making the decision) at least two months ago,” France Football editor Pascal Ferré advised The Associated Press in a phone interview.
“It isn’t a decision we took lightly but we had to accept it couldn’t be a normal or typical Ballon d’Or winner, and what really worried us is that it wouldn’t be fairly awarded.”
Because the sport’s guidelines have been modified in the course of the pandemic, the award itself was impacted.
“The season started with certain rules and ended with other rules. In January and February, soccer was played in front of full stands. Then from May and June it was with empty stands,” Ferré mentioned. “Then we had the five substitutes rule and not three. Then other changes happened in terms of the competitions, notably the final eight (eight-team knockout format) for the Champions League when it had started with home and away legs.”
With the European Championship and the Copa America postponed this yr, the Champions League would have massively weighed on the award’s end result however with a format inadvertently offering a shortcut for an eventual victor.
“The Ballon d’Or would have been decided over just three games: quarterfinal, semifinal, final,” Ferré mentioned. “There were loads of changes (to soccer’s rules) which are totally legitimate and which we don’t contest given the worldwide health crisis, but we couldn’t consider this as a typical year. Exceptional circumstances led to an exceptional decision.”
The Kopa Trophy for the most effective player beneath 21 and the Lev Yashin award for finest goalkeeper have additionally been canceled this yr, Ferré mentioned.
Ronaldo, who might be 36 in February, can still win an Italian league-Champions League double with Juventus this season, however he isn’t the one player affected by France Football’s choice.
Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski reached 50 membership objectives for the primary time and might win a treble. Kylian Mbappé and Neymar can clinch quadruples for Paris Saint-Germain.
“Look at Lewandowski’s performances this year, his form has been at the level of Messi and Ronaldo,” Ferré mentioned. “And Paris players, imagine if they win the Champions League.”
To keep the award’s authenticity and stage of suspense, players weren’t knowledgeable of the choice earlier than the announcement.
“We are independent and autonomous enough not to have to raise our little finger and ask what they think,” Ferré mentioned. “We will take their frustration as a sign of their attachment to the award.”
If the virus impacts subsequent season the similar manner, nevertheless, the award might be awarded.
“It would be less of a problem in terms of fairness, because this time around we’ve had two parts to the season: normal and not normal,” Ferré mentioned. “Imagine that in 2021 all matches are played behind closed doors (without fans) and with five subs. We would adapt, because it would be comparable.”
To fill this yr’s hole, the journal created one other trophy: the France Football Dream Team.
The journal’s jury of 180 will elect historical past’s finest group from a shortlist of 5 players in every place. The star-studded lineup might be recognized someday in autumn.
Ronaldo won’t be able to equal Messi this yr, however he may discover himself in the similar group for the primary time.