Ballon d’Or Betting Offers & Odds – 28th October 2024
Football is a team sport, but teams are made up of individuals and some times it’s clear which individual is the standout member of any team. Whilst the team has numerous opportunities to prove its worth and be rewarded for being the ‘best’, from domestic competitions through to international tournaments.
For the individual players, however, there’s no way to prove that they’re better than any other. Instead, the various awards that are given out are decided by other people, from fellow professionals to industry experts.
Of these various awards there’s no question that the Ballon d’Or is the pinnacle. Created in 1956, the award is an annual one that is presented by France Football. It was the brainchild of Gabriel Hanot, a sports writer and asks a jury of football journalists to vote on who they think has been the best player of previous year.
It was initially for European players but was expanded in 1995 to allow any player active at a European club to be considered, then in 2007 it was expanded further to mean that players from all over the world are eligible.
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Format and Schedule
The Ballon d’Or process is a simple enough one to understand. France Football takes the responsibility to draw up a shortlist of names, usually limited to 30 players. Once the shortlist has been created it is presented to a panel of journalists from around the world, with only one journalist allowed from each country.
The journalists consider the shortlist and vote for their top five players in descending order of merit, using the following criteria:
- Collective and individual performances during the previous year
- Their class, based on talent and fair play
- Their career as a whole
The player that the journalist considers to be the best is given 6 points, second-best gets 4 points, third gets 3 points, fourth 2 points and fifth 1 point. At the end of the process the points of all voting parties are added together and the player with the most points is declared to be the winner.
Should two players be tied for first place in the voting then the player that received the most first-place votes is given the award, with second-place votes taken into account if they still can’t be separated, then third-place and so on. Should there still be a tie then there’s another ballot taking into account only the two tied players.
In the case of a tie, the Editorial Director of France Football, who is both the organiser of the event and the chairman of the jury, will be asked to settle any and all disputes.
Once the decision has been reached, the awards ceremony confirms the top three players according to the votes of the journalists. They are revealed in descending order
There’s nothing that a player can do in order to qualify for Ballon d’Or nomination apart from play well during the year preceding the announcement of the nominations.
Generally speaking, a player will have to have won either the Champions League or a major international tournament such as the World Cup in order to be considered a viable candidate for the award.
Obviously campaigning for a player to win it is common, with clubs often using social media to influence the judging panel or suggest that their player would be a suitable winner. Quite how much of a difference that actually makes is a matter of debate.
The trophy itself is, quite literally, a golden ball, which the world Ballon d’Or translate to mean. It sits on top of a plinth and is made by the famous jeweller Mellerio dits Meller, which was founded in 1613. They’re the same company that produces the Coupe des Mousquetaires, which is given to the winner of the French Open tennis tournament.
It is made up of two hemispheres that are both brass, which are joined together by being hit with hammers from opposite sides. They are then welded together by a goldsmith using a blowtorch, before a carver then fills the ball with tar. The carver then uses a chisel and hammer to follow the lines that have been made in pencil onto the surface of the ball in order to give it its seam.
Once the work has been completed the tar is then removed from the ball and the goldsmith then polishes it and engraves the Ballon d’Or logo. It is at that point that it is covered in melted 18 carat gold. It is 21 centimetres in width and 23 centimetres tall, weighing five kilograms. The winner’s name isn’t engraved onto a plate on the base of the trophy until it has been awarded.
History Of The Ballon d’Or
There had long been a desire to name the best footballer in the world before the Ballon d’Or was created, but the lack of sufficient technology during the sport’s more formative years made it difficult to assess the talent of various players.
That’s when Gabriel Hanot of France Football, a respected weekly paper, had the idea of inviting journalists to decide upon who should be the winner, given that they’ll have watched plenty of players because of their jobs.
The first year of the Ballon d’Or’s existence saw the likes of Raymond Kopa from France and Real Madrid’s Alfredo Di Stéfano nominated, only to be beaten by Blackpool’s Stanley Mathews.
Matthews, who was known as The Wizard of the Dribble, may have won the inaugural trophy but the the two players that he pipped for it had the last laugh. Di Stéfano went on to win it in both 1957 and 1959, with Kopa winning it in the middle year.
Initially the Ballon d’Or was only open to players that were from Europe and played football for a European club. That’s why the likes of Pele and Diego Maradona cannot be seen on a list of previous winners despite widely being considered to be two of the finest players every to play the game. Instead the likes of George Best, Franz Beckenbauer, Michel Platini and Roberto Baggio found their names on the trophy at one point or another.
That all changed in 1995 when France Football decided to alter the rules in order to open the competition up to any player who was plying his trade with a club in Europe. It no longer mattered where in the world the player was from, which led to Liberia’s George Weah becoming the first non-European player to win the trophy that year, after an excellent set of performances for AC Milan. It was the first of several changes that took place over the following decade or so.
In 2007, for example, further changes were introduced in order to open the award up to players from anywhere in the world. It no longer mattered where they were born, nor where their professional club was based. Instead, any professional footballer could be considered for the Ballon d’Or. It put the competition in direct rivalry with FIFA’s World Player Of The Year award, thanks to the fact that it essentially became about the best player on the planet rather than just in Europe.
The Merger With FIFA
The fact that the Ballon d’Or suddenly switched from being just for players based in Europe to being one for players from anywhere in the world meant that it made FIFA’s own award something of a pointless thing. After all, the Ballon d’Or was considered to be the more prestigious award. Something needed to be done, with that ‘something’ being a merger between Football France and FIFA to create the FIFA Ballon d’Or.
When the announcement of the merger was made, the FIFA President, Sepp Blatter, said, “Football has become universal, so it is a good thing to present just one prize to the world’s best player”. The merger saw professional journalists joined on the voting panel by the head coaches and captain of national teams. The award was still for the player that performed best over the previous calendar year, it was just that it was given in accordance to the opinions of journalists and peers.
The FIFA Ballon d’Or ran between 2010 and 2015 and was dominated by Barcelona’s Lionel Messi and Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo, with the former winning it in its inaugural year and then again in 2011 and 2012. Ronaldo, meanwhile, won the award in 2013 and 2014 before Messi was once again victorious in the award’s final year. When the partnership ended in 2016 the two bodies decided to count the awards given during the FIFA Ballon d’Or’s existence as simply a continuation of their own award for the purpose of record keeping.
Inclusion Of Women’s Football
The Ballon d’Or Féminin, otherwise known as the Women’s Ballon d’Or, was introduced for the first time in 2018. The call for such an award had been growing with the simultaneous growth of the women’s game, with many calling for an award to be given to the best female player in order to achieve parity with the men’s side of the sport.
The first ever winner was Ada Hegerberg, who was inspirational in her club Lyon’s march to both the French title and Champions League, getting a goal in the final.
As if the world needed proof about why there was such demand for equality and a desire for a Women’s Ballon d’Or, Hegerberg was asked by the host, DJ, Martin Solveig, if she would twerk after being presented with the award. Sufficed to say there was much criticism of him, with many people wondering if he’d have asked the same thing of the male winner that year, Luka Modric.
When the agreement with FIFA came to an end, the Ballon d’Or returned to its previous format. That meant that international captains and managers were no longer given a vote and it was once again down to the opinion of the panel of journalists. That hasn’t meant that it has avoided criticism, however. The award has often favoured attacking players, with Lev Yashin’s 1963 award being the only time that a goalkeeper has been given the Ballon d’Or.
The award has also seen a smaller and smaller pool of leagues provide the winning player as the years have progressed. Prior to 1995 ten different divisions saw one of the players playing in them win the Ballon d’Or, but since then no player from outside of the Premier League, Bundesliga, La Liga and Serie A has been given the award.
That has been notable by the fact that Barcelona and Real Madrid have provided more players than any other clubs since 1995, with La Liga being the home of the most Ballon d’Or winners.
Previous Winners Since 2000
|Winner Points / %
|Virgil van Dijk
* The Ballon d’Or was cancelled in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic
Interesting Ballon d’Or Facts
The Ballon d’Or’s existence since 1956 means that there are plenty of worthwhile things to tell you about it.
Did you know, for example, that in 2017 Cristiano Ronaldo auctioned off the trophy that he won in 2013 in order to raise money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation? It sold for £600,000.
Here’s a look at some of the other key facts:
- Johan Cruyff, Michel Platini and Marco van Basten all the won the award three times apiece
- In 1972 German players took all three of the top spots, with the Netherlands repeating that feat in 1988
- In the wake of Lionel Messi’s 6th win in 2019 Barcelona took the top spot for players winning the award with 12, Real Madrid matched that in 2022 when Karim Benzema won to also give them 12 wins. When Messi won his 7th he was playing for PSG and his 8th playing for Inter Miami (the first US team to have a player win it).
- 10 players have completed the unique hat-trick of winning the FIFA World Cup, the European Cup and the Ballon d’Or during their careers: Bobby Charlton, Franz Beckenbauer, Gerd Müller, Paolo Rossi, Zinedine Zidane, Rivaldo, Ronaldinho, Kaká, Lionel Messi and Karim Benzema.
- 4 English players have lifted the trophy: Stanley Matthews, Bobby Charlton, Kevin Keegan and Michael Owen. Of those, only Keegan won it twice, doing so successively in 1978 and 1979 when he played for Hamburg
- Lionel Messi has the honour of having won the trophy the most times, lifting it 8 times (2009-2012, 2015, 2019, 2021, 2023), finishing runner-up 5 times. Cristiano Ronaldo has won the award 5 times (2008, 2013-14, 2016, 2017) and has finished 2nd six times compared to Messi’s five.