What are the new changes to the Ballon d'Or 2021/22?
From now on, the traditional European season and not the calendar year will be evaluated, and there are a number of other adjustments being made.
The Ballon d'Or, the prestigious trophy for the best male and female player awarded by France Football, will now be based on the traditional European soccer season rather than the calendar year as of 2021-2022, one of the main reforms the magazine announced on Friday.
What changes to expect from the Ballon d'Or
The trophy, which has been awarded at the end of the calendar year since its creation in 1956, will now be aligned with the European football season, running from August to July, and will feature a tighter jury, a more refined pre-selection process and clearer award criteria, according to the new rules unveiled by France Football in its edition to be published on Saturday.
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"It's an opportunity to give a new impetus. It's an opportunity to give a new impetus. Before, we judged over two half-seasons. It will be easier to understand," said Pascal Ferré, editor-in-chief of France Football, during a presentation on Friday in Boulogne-Billancourt (Hauts-de-Seine).
The next presentation of the trophy will take place in September or October 2022, again in the form of a gala event that is now well established in the world football landscape. It will cover the season that began the previous year, taking into account the men's Champions League (final on 28 May) and the women's Euros (6-31 July).
Qatar World Cup
This reform comes at a time when the calendar will be turned upside down next season with the organisation of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar in November-December rather than during the summer, a competition whose best players will therefore be rewarded at the 2023 Ballon d'Or.
Other notable changes include the inclusion of former star Didier Drogba on the shortlisting committee, alongside the previous year's most relevant juror and the editorial teams of France Football and L'Equipe.
In addition, the jury will be tightened. Still made up of journalists, with one voter per nation, it will henceforth comprise only 100 jurors for the men's Ballon d'Or (compared with 170 previously), corresponding to the top 100 nations in the Fifa rankings, and 50 for the women's Ballon d'Or, in the same way. According to France Football, this is a way of guaranteeing the "expertise" of the voters and their access to match footage.
Finally, the award criteria will be clarified: "individual performances" and the "decisive and impressive character of the contenders" will be the number one criterion, ahead of "the collective aspect and trophies won" and "the player's class and sense of fair play".
"The aim is to avoid ambiguity and to be clear and consistent: the Ballon d'Or is an individual award, based on individual performances," said Pascal Ferré.
A player's entire career will no longer be taken into account, to avoid making the Ballon d'Or a "preserve". This is a response to the criticism of Lionel Messi, who won the 2021 award for the seventh time, while his runner-up, Poland's Robert Lewandowski, is still chasing this individual accolade.
The women's Ballon d'Or 2021 was awarded to Spain's Alexia Putellas, while the Yachin Trophy for best goalkeeper was won by Italy's Gianluigi Donnarumma and the Kopa Trophy for best newcomer by Spain's Pedri.