Ballon d’Or 2020 Canceled for the First Time in Award’s History Amid COVID-19

Ballon d’Or 2020 Canceled for the First Time in Award’s History Amid COVID-19
Barcelona's soccer player Lionel Messi holds the trophy of the Golden Ball award ceremony in Paris, Monday, Dec. 2, 2019. Messi won the Ballon d'Or for sixth time. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

Francois Mori/Associated Press

For the first time since its creation in 1956, there will be no Ballon d’Or awarded in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on football, according to ESPN.

The award, presented by France Football, is given to the best player each year, counting club and international play, but it’s been decided that shortened and canceled seasons would prevent a fair judgment this time around.

“There will be no edition in 2020, because it turns out, after thoughtful consideration, that all the conditions are not met,” editor-in-chief of France Football Pascal Ferre said in a statement. “We believe that such a singular year cannot—and should not—be treated as an ordinary one.”

Barcelona’s Lionel Messi won the 2019 men’s award for a record sixth time, while OL Reign and United States women’s national team star Megan Rapinoe earned the Ballon d’Or Feminin, which was created in 2018.

COVID-19 altered the 2019-20 season in just about every country. Top leagues like the Bundesliga, Premier League and La Liga resumed action after extended hiatuses, with games being played without fans. 

Ligue 1 did not return and ended the season with Paris Saint-Germain named the champions. The Eredivisie, meanwhile, was canceled with no champion crowned.

There could also be changes to the 2020-21 seasons in each league because of the adjusted schedules, while international matches have mostly been postponed or canceled. 

Ferre noted how this caused issues when making comparisons:

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 hurts a player like Robert Lewandowski of Bayern Munich, who was one of the favorites to win what would have been his first award:

Other top contenders for the men’s award would have included Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Sergio Ramos, Karim Benzema, Sadio Mane and Kevin De Bruyne.

The Ballon d’Or committee will instead choose a “dream team” of 11 players at the end of the year.

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