September 2023

What is the Ballon d’Or Award and why is it so Prestigious?

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The Ballon d’Or, or the Golden Ball, is an annual award that recognizes the best footballer in the world.

It is considered by many as the most prestigious individual honor in the sport, as it reflects the performance, achievements and impact of a player over a year. The award is presented by France Football, a French magazine that has been covering football since 1946.

The history of the Ballon d’Or dates back to 1956, when it was created by two journalists, Gabriel Hanot and Jacques Ferran, who wanted to honor the European Footballer of the Year. The first winner was Stanley Matthews, an English winger who played for Blackpool and Stoke City. At that time, only European players who played in European clubs were eligible for the award.

In 1995, the eligibility criteria were expanded to include all players from any origin who played in European clubs. This allowed players from other continents, such as Africa, Asia and South America, to compete for the award. The first non-European winner was George Weah, a Liberian striker who played for Paris Saint-Germain and AC Milan.

In 2007, the award became a global prize, as it opened up to all professional footballers from around the world, regardless of their club or league. This made the competition even more fierce and diverse, as players from different regions and cultures showcased their talents and skills.

In 2010, France Football and FIFA, the world governing body of football, agreed to merge their respective awards, the Ballon d’Or and the FIFA World Player of the Year, into one trophy called the FIFA Ballon d’Or. This partnership lasted until 2015, when both organizations decided to end their collaboration and revert to their original awards.

Since then, France Football has continued to present the Ballon d’Or every year, along with other awards such as the Ballon d’Or Féminin (for the best female player), the Kopa Trophy (for the best player under 21), the Yashin Trophy (for the best goalkeeper) and the Best Striker (for the best forward).

The winner of the Ballon d’Or is determined by a panel of international journalists who vote for their top three choices among a shortlist of 30 nominees. The player with the most points wins the award. The nominees are selected based on their performances and achievements in club and international competitions during a calendar year.

The Ballon d’Or is not only a recognition of skill and performance, but also a symbol of history and legacy. Some of the greatest names in soccer history have won the award, such as Pele, Diego Maradona, Zinedine Zidane, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Lionel Messi. The latter holds the record for the most wins with seven awards, followed by Ronaldo with five.

The most recent winner of the Ballon d’Or was Karim Benzema, who was playing for Real Madrid and France. He won the prize by a large margin of 356 votes, ahead of Sadio Mané and Kevin De Bruyne. He had a remarkable season with his club, winning the La Liga and the Champions League titles, and scoring 44 goals in all competitions. He also helped France win the UEFA Nations League, scoring in the final against Italy.

Some of the other nominees for the 2023 Ballon d’Or are Erling Haaland, Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappé, Robert Lewandowski, Kim Min-Jae, Luka Modric, Martin Ødegaard, Andre Onana, Victor Osimhen, Jamal Musiala, Rodr, Mohamed Salah, Bukayo Saka, Bernardo Silva, Vinicius Jr, Nicolo Barella, Jude Bellingham, Karim Benzema, Yassine Bounou, Kevin De Bruyne, Ruben Dias, Antoine Griezmann, Ilkay Gündoğan, Josko Gvardiol, Harry Kane, Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, Emiliano Martinez and Lautaro Martinez.

They all had impressive seasons with their clubs and countries, winning trophies and breaking records.

The Ballon d’Or is more than just an award. It is a symbol of excellence, recognition and prestige in football. It is a testament to the hard work, dedication and passion of a player who strives to be the best in his craft. It is also a celebration of football as a global sport that unites people from different backgrounds and cultures.

The Ballon d’Or is not only what it is, but also what it means. It means being the best player in the world.

Barry Ugochukwu

Lead writer for JRZY FC. I am also a machine learning engineer & lover of tech, sports and all things football.

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