Not long after he was elected FIFA president, Gianni Infantino the ties the organization had severed with France Football and its subsequent termination the deal ended the governing body’s involvement in the Ballon d’Or award (running since 1956) and led to FIFA’s bespoke individual award, ‘The Best’.
While both awards share the same premise in awarding outstanding individual talent, there are some aspects to differentiate both awards.
The Ballon d’Oro Prize was created in 1956 by French journalist Gabriel Hanot as an award to celebrate individual brilliance in team play and is generally regarded as the most prestigious within the game. Blackpool’s Stanley Matthews was the first prize winner with Leo Messi the current holder with the Argentine taking home the award in 2019 while the pandemic saw no winner in 2020. FIFA got involved with the award from 2010-2015 when the award was renamed the ‘FIFA Ballon d’Or’.
The winner will be chosen based on the votes of a select number of journalists from around the world and based on the performance of players during the calendar year. The ceremony traditionally takes place in December each year (although the 2021 edition will take place at the end of November) and is held in the French capital.
‘Best’ Prizes are also based on individual performance based on a football season, as opposed to the calendar year which is the parameter used by the Ballon d’Or.
The prices are also branched to including prizes for the best young player, female player, goalkeeper…
FIFA ‘The Best’
After the break from France Football, FIFA hosted the first ‘The Best’ ceremony in January 2017 in Zurich (Switzerland) with Cristiano Ronaldo receiving the first prize. Voting for this award is conducted by an international jury made up of national team managers and captains, a pool of journalists and a percentage of the vote is also taken by fans who vote through the FIFA website.
Polish striker Robert Lewandowski was awarded ‘The Best’ for 2020 and the next edition of the event will be held ‘virtually’ in Zurich in January 2022, with voting currently open and running until December 10. ‘The Best’ awards also include a range of sub-awards such as ‘Best Goalkeeper’, ‘Best Women’s Player, ‘Best Coach’…