It is the first year since 1956 that France Football will not hand out the prestigious individual award. Lionel Messi won last year to pick up his sixth Ballon d’Or overall, with Cristiano Ronaldo a five-time winner. Only Luka Modric broke this 12-year duopoly when winning in 2018.
France’s Ligue 1 was the most high-profile division in Europe to cancel the remainder of its campaign due to coronavirus, with the Premier League, Serie A and La Liga all resuming after a three-month break.
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 told The Associated Press in a telephone 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 it that it wouldn’t be fairly awarded.”
From a sports perspective, two months (January and February), out of the eleven generally required to form an opinion and decide who should lift the trophies, represent far too little to gauge and judge ; without forgetting that the other games were played – or will be played – in unordinary conditions (behind closed doors, with five replacements, Champions League’s Final 8 played in a single game).
Finally, 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? To avoid overly convoluted calculations and projections, we chose the least bad of the options.
This decision, which was taken of course with all the Group stakeholders, does not delight us but it seems to be the most responsible one. Protecting the credibility and legitimacy of such an award also means ensuring its flawlessness over time.
The Ballon d’Or will gather again the football big family and enthusiasts in 2021, to relive the happiness that surrounds the ceremonies as we have experienced them in recent years.”
Because the game’s rules have been modified during the pandemic, the award itself was impacted.
The Kopa Trophy for the best player under 21 and the Lev Yashin award for best goalkeeper have also been canceled this year, Ferré said.