Prestigious Paris based magazine, France Football yesterday confirmed their 30 player shortlist ahead of the 2018 Ballon d'Or award. Debates as to the winner should be haven't just started now, they did so some weeks or even months ago. Over the years, this individual prize for a team sport has gleaned more and more interest with the passing of time. The award was originally devised in 1956 coinciding with the first European Cup and was destined for the best player in Europe. Over time, the award has lost its Euro-focus and is now an award for the best player in world football, shedding it's European angle in 1995.
FIFA tried to jump on it's success, initially creating their own FIFA World Player award. They then became a partner in the Ballon d'Or award (if you can't beat your enemy, join them!) but after trying to absorb the prize, the partnership between FIFA and France Football was dissolved with the governing body creating their own "The Best" award bringing forward the gala ceremony from the end of the year to September. This was all part of a strategy to take the thunder from France Football and their long running award. I was actually worried, given the power of FIFA that this new award of theirs would eclipse the Ballon d'Or but after seeing the recent no shows from the likes of Messi, Cristiano and even Maradona and Pelé, now I'm not so apprehensive.
As it stands the traditional Ballon d'Or is still the main reference point for individual awards in the game and this is mainly due to it's 70 years of history. Yesterday's shortlist of 30 players will and has, provoked all sorts of debate as to who the rightful winner should be. There are also the new awards too: the Women's Ballon d'Or and the Kopa Trophy which will be awarded to the best under-21 player with Kylian Mbappe the strong favourite. The women's award is appropriate given the development of the sport and the winner will be selected from a shortlist of 15 players with winners of all three prestigious awards set to be revealed at a gala ceremony in Paris on December 3rd.