No Ballon d’Or for Ronaldo or Messi, Thanks to COVID-19

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Ballon d’Or will not hold in 2020 for the first time since 1956 due to the coronavirus pandemic which has greatly affected the flow of football across the world especially from March 2020. The organisers of the prestigious annual football award, the Group L’Equipe, announced this development on Monday, 20 July 2020.

Ballon d’Or which is the oldest and the most prestigious football awards in the world is owned by popular French magazine, France Football. Since its inception in 1956, the award has never had a reason to be cancelled. This year ought to be his 64th edition.

Cristiano displaying his five Ballon d'Or
Cristiano displaying his five Ballon d’Or

While breaking the news this afternoon, the editor-in-chief of France Football, Pascal Ferré, explained in a statement that the stakeholders of the football award decided to cancel it because there was “lack of sufficient fair conditions”.

Barcelona’s icon, Lionel Messi won the men category of the award in the last edition to make it a record 6 Ballon d’Or. While American soccer icon, Megan Rapinoe, won the last female category of the annual football award.

Juventus’ Cristiano Ronaldo who has won the award 5 times and his career rival, Messi, are the most nominated footballers for the award. They have been nominated a record 12 times each, winning eleven out of the last 12 editions altogether.

Based on trends, the goalscoring football icon of German Bundesliga Robert Lewandowski who has never won the award despite his exploits at Bayern Munich over the years has been tipped by most football fans to win this year’s edition. Unfortunately for the 31-year-old Polish striker, he would not have such an opportunity this year, no thanks to the coronavirus pandemic.

Below is the full statement from the organisers of the Ballon d’Or announcing the cancellation of the award for this year.

Cristiano displaying his five Ballon d'Or
Cristiano displaying his five Ballon d’Or

“For the first time in its history, which began in 1956, the Ballon d’Or will not be awarded in 2020, due to the lack of sufficient fair conditions.

“Messi and Rapinoe (as well as [Mattijs] de Ligt and Alisson, winners of the Kopa and Yachine Trophies [for young player and goalkeeper]) will have to wait a year. The winners of the last edition will have no successors at the end of the year. Because there will be no Ballon d’Or 2020 edition.

“Why? Because such a singular year cannot – and should not – be treated as an ordinary year. When in doubt, it is better to abstain than to persist.

“Because the Ballon d’Or trophy conveys other values – like exemplarity, solidarity and responsibility – rather than merely sporting excellence alone.

“Because the fairness that prevails for this honorary title could not be preserved, in particular at the statistical level and also in the preparation since all the aspirants to the award could not be rightly compared, some having seen their season cut radically short, others not. So how can we compare the incomparable?

“Because of our approximately 220 jurors (men and women combined) distributed around the world, some may have been distracted or diverted from their observation due to other priorities and emergencies to manage.

“We did not want to put an indelible asterisk on the prize like “trophy won in exceptional circumstances due to the Covid-19 health crisis”. We will always prefer a small sprain to our history to a large scar.

“This is the first time since 1956 that the Ballon d’Or has taken a break. The situation does not enchant us but seems to us the most responsible and logical decision. Protecting the credibility and legitimacy of such an award also means protecting it over time.

“The Ballon d’Or story is too precious to take the risk of damaging it with a wobbly exercise. In these turbulent times, taking a break is a luxury and an invaluable necessity. So that football, as a whole, regains momentum, passion and emotion.”