Grupo L'Equipe, owners of France Football, the magazine that organises the voting for the Ballon d'Or every year, as it has done since 1956, sent a letter yesterday to all the members of the jury, to which I have the honour of being part. It explained the reasons why this year there will be no vote. All very understandable reasons too. Things were only normal right at the start of the year. Since then, thanks to Covid-19, they have been far from it. The leagues have been interrupted, there's no European Championships, the Champions League will be completed with ties of just one game, we don't know exactly how and when we'll come back from the summer or even if the leagues will restart normally.
Ballon d'Or 2020: a team of legends
But France Football don't want to miss a year. They revealed they will be asking for our votes for a team of the all-time best. The journalists at the magazine are going to propose various players (they've not said how many) for each position, for us to vote upon. I think it's a great idea to fill in the terribly sad gap for 2020, and a great way to think about the legends of the past, and open up debates about them. It reminds me of when the Ballon d'Or turned 30, and the magazine asked all the winners to vote for the Ballon d'Or of the Ballons d'Or of those 30 years. Di Stéfano was voted the winner by that legendary jury. A unique honour.
This vote will be more controversial, of course. I still don't know if players who were previously not eligible - because they weren't European or didn't play in Europe - will now be included. The two most famous cases are Pelé and Maradona. Then comes the problem of comparing different eras and of choosing players for one position when incomparable geniuses have both played there. Pelé, Maradona and Messi for one position, Di Stéfano and Cruyff for another. The older players mean little for today's youngsters and the lack of good footage doesn't help. But the initiative will spark debate to focus on the best thing about football: its heroes.