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Ballon d'Or History

The Ballon d'Or award is an annual football award for the best player over the previous year. It was first awarded in 1956.

Johan Cruyff being presented with one of his three Ballon d'Or awardsJohan Cruyff being presented with one of his three Ballon d'Or awards

In 2018, the first women's Ballon d'Or award was presented (called the Ballon d'Or Féminin).

Between 2009 and 2015 the Ballon d'Or and the FIFA Player of the year awards were merged to create the FIFA Ballon d'Or. In 2016, France Football announced that their partnership with FIFA had come to an end and that they would revive the Ballon d'Or award, the 2016 edition became the 61st award.

Up until 1995, the award was often referred to as the European Footballer of the Year award as it was only open to European players at European clubs. The eligibility rules were changed in 1995 to allow non-European players to be eligible for the award if they played for a European club. Then in 2007, any player in the world became eligible.

The Ballon d'Or is set to change in 2024. European football's governing body, UEFA, announced it will co-organise the event with French media company Groupe Amaury. New awards for the men's and women's coach of the year will also be introduced from 2024. 

2020 Award

Due to the disruption to world sport in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, there was no award given in 2020.

2021 Award

The winner in 2021 was Lionel Messi in 2021. He won the men's Ballon d'Or award a record seventh time (Cristiano Ronaldo has won the award five times). In 2021, it was the first time two more awards given, the Best Club and Best Striker of the Year.

2022 Award

The 30 nominees for the 2022 award were announced in August. Seven-time winner Lionel Messi was not on the list. The winner was the favorite from Real Madrid, Karim Benzema. Benzema became only the fifth Frenchman to do so, and at 34 years old was the oldest winner since Stanley Matthews in 1956. Socrates Award which acknowledges the humanitarian work by a champion footballer was first presented in 2022.

2023 Award

The winner was the favorite Lionel Messi. This was his eighth Ballon d'Or Trophy.

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Football (some call it soccer) is the world's most popular sport. There are many major football tournaments, the pinnacle is the FIFA World Cup. See a calendar of what is coming up. There have been many legends of the game, particularly winners of the Ballon d'Or. For players, there are articles about Football Fitness and Fitness Testing.

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