Ballon d'Or: What changes have France Football made for 2022 award?

In November of last year, Lionel Messi won a record seventh Ballon d’Or.

No footballer in history comes close to matching the Paris Saint-Germain superstar’s total, with Cristiano Ronaldo‘s haul of five the second-best.

In the eyes of many, Messi was a deserving winner after a superb 2021 which saw him keep Barcelona afloat and achieve international success with Argentina at the Copa America.

However, there were also a lot of other football lovers who believe Bayern Munich‘s Robert Lewandowski should have scooped the coveted individual accolade instead.

Due to that fact, there were cries for changes to be made in regards to the Ballon d’Or award process and France Football have decided to listen.

The French publication have announced four major changes and on paper, it looks as if they will make things a lot fairer moving forward.

Let’s take a look at them in detail…

1. Voting will now be based on a season rather than a calendar year

So the 2022 award will be based on player performance in the 2021/22 campaign. The 2022 World Cup will therefore contribute to the 2023 award.

France Football, per Goal: “Because the award was originally designed to celebrate the best player of the year, since then no change has taken place at this level. The BdO celebrates the strongest from January to December, which obliges, de facto, to judge and gauge two half-seasons – January-July and August-December (sometimes accompanied by club changes in the off-season) – rather than one season in its entirety and continuity.

“Also, by proceeding with a slight shift in time, with an abandonment of the calendar rhythm and an alignment of the BdO (men and women) on the classic seasonality of football – for the month of August, which coincides with the start of the major championships and the European preliminary rounds, the following July, which corresponds to the lowering of the curtain for all competitions, national and international, selections included – we end up with a clarification of the performances to be counted and evaluated. The next edition will therefore take into account the entire 2021-22 season which will end with the Women’s Euro (July 6-31, 2022). The World Cup in Qatar (November 21-December 18, 2022) will, however, be included in the 2023 Ballon d’Or edition.”

2. Changes to the shortlisting process

Previously, only journalists from L’Equipe and France Football were involved in the shortlisting process. From 2022 onwards, more people will be taking part in order to make the process much fairer.

France Football: “Because the Ballon d’Or begins as soon as the famous lists of nominees are drawn up (thirty for men, twenty for women and ten for the Yachine and Kopa Trophies), it was decided to reinforce this essential step. In order to present a selection of suitors as fair, indisputable and relevant as possible, we acted to change the process which, until now, mainly involved the writers of France Football. To the lists of FF (and L’Équipe) journalists will now be added BdO ambassador Didier Drogba (for the men’s BdO and the Yachine and Kopa Trophies) as well as the voter who has shown himself to be the most insightful in the previous edition.

“Among the men, for the next edition, it will be the Vietnamese Truong Anh Ngoc (The Thao & Van Hoa). Among the women, it will be the Czech juror Karolina Hlavackova (Ruik), to deliver her twenty applicants. From these lists will come the final official lists which will be unveiled in September.”

3. Voting for Ballon d’Or now restricted

To help create an ‘elite panel’, only representatives from the top 100 countries will be allowed to vote in the men’s award and just the top 50 for the women’s award.

France Football: “Because the Ballon d’Or has gone from sixteen European jurors (1956) to one hundred and seventy (2021) spread all over the world, it can boast of an astonishing and indisputable universality. This is what contributes to its influence and reputation. However, is the judgment ten times finer and better with ten times more jurors? Couldn’t the gigantic size of the jury end up weakening it? Did the openness to “small” countries (those which have neither a big natural football culture nor historical legitimacy and not always easy access to images of the main competitions) risk from time to time impacting the ballot due to lack of adequate knowledge or expertise?

“As there is no question of abandoning the founding democratic principle (all votes are equal, whatever the country), the idea is therefore to limit the jury to an “elite”, to real connoisseurs. Thus, only the representatives of the first hundred countries in the FIFA rankings (and the fifty for women) will be “qualified” to vote. A tightening that reinforces the level of expertise and limits the (rare) fanciful votes. What will be lost in picturesqueness will be gained in legitimacy and reliability.”

4. The primary focus of the award will now be ‘individual performance’

Individual performance will now take precedence over everything else. A player’s career will also no longer be considered during the voting process – which certainly makes sense.

France Football: “Because the rules have not changed much since their inception and the criteria frequently give rise to debate, we thought it appropriate to refresh the hierarchy of the constituent elements in the vote for greater consistency and clarity. And avoid any ambiguities. The Ballon d’Or is an individual award. Also, logically, criterion number 1 will focus primarily on individual performance and the decisive and impressive character of the contenders.

“Since football remains a collective sport despite everything, criterion number 2 will focus on collective performance and the record accumulated during the season. Finally, criterion number 3 will concern the class of the player and his sense of fair play. Because setting an example also counts. The most attentive will have noticed the disappearance of the “player’s career” criterion. A way of considering the race for the Ballon d’Or as an open competition, and not as a preserve.”

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Sounds pretty good, right?

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