To be known as the best footballer on the planet is something many fantasise about. However, for an elite few in the sport, it could become a reality.

Out of the thirty who are nominated each year, only one can be awarded the Ballon d’Or.

The award was established in 1956 by France Football magazine and initially, only European players were eligible to win the award.

That all changed in 1995 when the criteria was expanded to include players from any nationality, provided they played for a European club.

Realising that there were some great players outside of Europe, the rules changed again in 2007, and since that time, any player worldwide has been eligible.

From 2010 to 2015, the Ballon d’Or was merged with the FIFA World Player of the Year, known as the FIFA Ballon d’Or.

It then reverted back to the original Ballon d’Or in 2016, run solely by France Football.

So with thousands of footballers around the world, and if anybody can win it, how do the players get whittled down and the winner eventually chosen?

How the Winner of the Ballon d’Or is Decided

The process for deciding the winner of the Ballon d’Or is quite detailed and involves a few key steps:

Selection of the Jury

First up is selecting a panel of international journalists who will then cast their votes.

These journalists are typically football experts from various countries, representing a wide range of regions to ensure a diverse and balanced perspective.

Over the years, this has included high-profile writers such as Henry Winter (The Times UK), Gabriel Hanot (France Football), Rob Hughes (International Herald Tribune USA), and Paolo Condo (La Gazzetta dello Sport Italy).

Nomination of Candidates

France Football, the organisation behind the Ballon d’Or, compiles a list of nominees.

This list usually includes around 30 players who have had exceptional performances over the past year.

Voting Process

Each journalist on the panel then receives the list of nominees and is asked to select their top five players.

The voting is confidential to ensure unbiased choices, and journalists rank their choices from first to fifth.

The ranking is important because it determines the number of points each player receives.

Points Allocation

Points are awarded based on the ranking each journalist gives:

  • First place: 6 points
  • Second place: 4 points
  • Third place: 3 points
  • Fourth place: 2 points
  • Fifth place: 1 point

Tallying the Votes

After all the votes are submitted, France Football tallies the points. Each player’s total points from all the journalists’ votes are added up.

Announcement of the Winner

The player with the highest total points is declared the winner of the Ballon d’Or.

In the event of a tie, additional criteria or votes may be used to determine the winner.

Criteria Considered by Journalists

When selecting their top five players, journalists typically consider several factors:

  • Individual Performance: The player’s skill, consistency, and impact in matches throughout the year.
  • Team Success: Achievements with club and national teams, such as winning major tournaments like the UEFA Champions League, domestic leagues, or the FIFA World Cup.
  • Sportsmanship and Fair Play: The player’s conduct on and off the field.
  • Career Achievements: While the focus is on the past year, a player’s overall career achievements can sometimes influence votes.

Who Has Won The Ballon d’Or The Most Times?

It should come as no surprise to anybody who knows anything about football that Lionel Messi has won the Ballon d’Or more times than any other player.

In fact, he has won a record EIGHT times in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2019, 2021, and 2023.

There’s no disputing that he is one of the world’s greatest footballers, but there have been one or two occasions when other players really should have pipped him to the post.

After all, Robert Lewandowski has arguably been as good as, if not better, than Messi some years and really should have been given the Ballon d’Or at least once.

After Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo has won the Ballon d’Or five times. His first win was in 2008 when playing for Manchester United and all subsequent wins (2013, 2014, 2016, and 2017) were when he was with Real Madrid.

In 2017, Real Madrid won La Liga, the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Super Cup, and FIFA Club World Cup, with Ronaldo scoring 44 goals in all competitions.

To top it off, Portugal also qualified for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Since 2008 only two other players, aside from Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, have won the Ballon d’Or, and they are Luka Modrić in 2018 and Karim Benzema in 2022.

But with neither player really in contention in 2024, the award looks like it’s going to find a new home. So who is in contention, and who do the bookies think has a shot of winning?

Who is Predicted to Win in 2024?

Here’s the thing about the Ballon d’Or, it doesn’t matter how well you play for your club, if you win nothing then the chances are this award is off the table as well.

So for the likes of Kylian Mbappe and Harry Kane, both of whom were in with a chance, the second they went out of the Champions League with PGS and Bayern Munich their odds for the Ballon d’Or dropped like a stone.

Replacing them as the bookie’s favourites are now Jose Vinicius Junior and Jude Bellingham, both of whom play for Real Madrid.

What could swing in Bellingham’s favour would be an outstanding performance for England at Euro 2024. However, with Vinicius Junior also playing in Copa America it could go either way.

Both have very short odds in the betting markets, and it’s still all to play for.

When is the Ballon d’Or Ceremony in 2024?

The date has been set with the great and the good of the footballing world poised to converge on Monday 28th October 2024, at the Théâtre du Châtelet in, Paris, France.

You’ll have to check closer to the time to see which TV channels in your country will be broadcasting it but if you have a few quid to spare you could always attend in person.

Tickets are a snip at £7,999 plus VAT for a Premium+ Ticket on the 1st floor located in Corbeille. But if that doesn’t quite do it for you, how about VIP Seats on the 1st floor located in Orchestra for just £12,999 plus VAT. (ridiculous!)

Every Ballon d’Or Winner Since 1956

2024 will see the 68th ceremony take place so we’ve compiled a handy table below so that you can see every single winner since 1956!

 

Year Winner Country
2023 Lionel Messi Argentina
2022 Karim Benzema France
2021 Lionel Messi Argentina
2020 No award due to COVID-19 N/A
2019 Lionel Messi Argentina
2018 Luka Modrić Croatia
2017 Cristiano Ronaldo Portugal
2016 Cristiano Ronaldo Portugal
2015 Lionel Messi Argentina
2014 Cristiano Ronaldo Portugal
2013 Cristiano Ronaldo Portugal
2012 Lionel Messi Argentina
2011 Lionel Messi Argentina
2010 Lionel Messi Argentina
2009 Lionel Messi Argentina
2008 Cristiano Ronaldo Portugal
2007 Kaká Brazil
2006 Fabio Cannavaro Italy
2005 Ronaldinho Brazil
2004 Andriy Shevchenko Ukraine
2003 Pavel Nedvěd Czech Republic
2002 Ronaldo Brazil
2001 Michael Owen England
2000 Luis Figo Portugal
1999 Rivaldo Brazil
1998 Zinedine Zidane France
1997 Ronaldo Brazil
1996 Matthias Sammer Germany
1995 George Weah Liberia
1994 Hristo Stoichkov Bulgaria
1993 Roberto Baggio Italy
1992 Marco van Basten Netherlands
1991 Jean-Pierre Papin France
1990 Lothar Matthäus Germany
1989 Marco van Basten Netherlands
1988 Marco van Basten Netherlands
1987 Ruud Gullit Netherlands
1986 Igor Belanov Soviet Union
1985 Michel Platini France
1984 Michel Platini France
1983 Michel Platini France
1982 Paolo Rossi Italy
1981 Karl-Heinz Rummenigge West Germany
1980 Karl-Heinz Rummenigge West Germany
1979 Kevin Keegan England
1978 Kevin Keegan England
1977 Allan Simonsen Denmark
1976 Franz Beckenbauer West Germany
1975 Oleg Blokhin Soviet Union
1974 Johan Cruyff Netherlands
1973 Johan Cruyff Netherlands
1972 Franz Beckenbauer West Germany
1971 Johan Cruyff Netherlands
1970 Gerd Müller West Germany
1969 Gianni Rivera Italy
1968 George Best Northern Ireland
1967 Florian Albert Hungary
1966 Bobby Charlton England
1965 Eusebio Portugal
1964 Denis Law Scotland
1963 Lev Yashin Soviet Union
1962 Josef Masopust Czechoslovakia
1961 Omar Sívori Italy
1960 Luis Suárez Spain
1959 Alfredo Di Stéfano Spain
1958 Raymond Kopa France
1957 Alfredo Di Stéfano Spain
1956 Stanley Matthews England

 

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