The Ballon d’Or will not be awarded this year for the first time in its 64-year history after the Covid-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on the football calendar.
The prestigious Ballon d’Or, voted for by journalists and organised by French magazine France Football, is an annual prize awarded to the best male footballer in the world since 1956. The women’s Ballon d’Or was first awarded in 2018.
The 2019-20 season has been ravaged by the pandemic, with all the major European leagues suspending matches from March to June.
“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,” Pascal Ferre, editor-in-chief of France Football, said in a statement.
“Without forgetting that the other games were played – or will be played – in extraordinary conditions.”
The final stages of the Champions League, from the quarter-finals onwards, has also been rescheduled as a mini-tournament in Portugal next month.
Barcelona’s Argentina forward Lionel Messi has won the men’s award a record six times — one more than long-time rival Cristiano Ronaldo.
Ronaldo can still help Juventus win the Serie A and Champions League double this season but the Portuguese forward will be among several leading players who will miss the opportunity to contend for the individual honour.
Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski reached 50 club goals this term and has an opportunity to win the treble, while Messi became the first player in Spain’s La Liga to record 20 goals and 20 assists in a single campaign.
To fill the void left by the annual ceremony, France Football magazine’s jury of 180 will elect an all-time ‘Dream Team’ at the end of the year.