Lionel Messi’s 8th Ballon d’Or victory marks ending of an era, with the prestigious award set for UEFA co-op

The Ballon d’Or, organized by France Football magazine, is awarded annually to the world’s best football player who has showcased exceptional performances throughout the preceding year. Regardless of the claims made by Piers Morgan about whether Lionel Messi “rigged” the awards, the Ballon d’Or unquestionably recognized his outstanding achievements in 2022, particularly at the World Cup in Qatar.

Lionel Messi made history by winning the Ballon d’Or for an unprecedented eighth time, achieving this remarkable feat at the age of 36. He also became the second-oldest player ever to receive the award.

Ballon d’Or to be co-organized by UEFA, France Football

UEFA and Groupe Amaury have joined forces to co-organize the esteemed Ballon d’Or awards starting in 2024, as announced by Europe’s soccer governing body. Groupe Amaury, the parent company of media entities like France Football and L’Equipe, will retain ownership of the Ballon d’Or brand and maintain control over the voting process to ensure its independence.

Under this partnership, UEFA will be responsible for arranging the yearly gala event and managing its global commercial rights. Furthermore, the collaboration will introduce two new awards recognizing the best men’s and women’s coaches of the year.

As a result of this collaboration, UEFA’s awards for the best player and best coach will no longer be part of the landscape. However, UEFA will uphold the presentation of the President’s Award and maintain recognition for the best player in each of their competitions.

“For almost 70 years, the Ballon d’Or has stood as the most prestigious individual accolade in the world of football and is a testament to the extraordinary skill, dedication, and impact of the game’s legends and their enduring mark on the sport’s history,” UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said.

He continued by saying, “UEFA club and national team competitions… are regarded as the highest global stages for elite players, often playing a critical role in a player’s candidacy for major honors and their place in the football pantheon.

“UEFA and the Ballon d’Or are synonyms of sporting excellence, so our partnership will be a natural blend of prominence and a synergy that promises to be nothing short of exceptional.”

First-ever Ballon d’Or winner

Stanley Matthews was the inaugural recipient of the Ballon d’Or award in 1956, and Ada Hegerberg of Norway was the first to be honored with the Ballon d’Or Féminin in 2018.

Ballon d'Or
Gabriel Hanot presents the Ballon d’Or to Stanley Matthews. 1956 Ballon d’Or winner. Credit: Offside/L’Equipe.

The Ballon d’Or, organized by France Football magazine, is an annual award presented to the world’s best football player who has excelled and stood out with their performances over the preceding year.

The initiative for the Ballon d’Or was conceived by former French footballer and journalist Gabriel Hanot. He is also credited with the idea of the Ligue 1 championship in France and co-founding the European Cup, now known as the UEFA Champions League, alongside his L’Équipe colleague Jacques Ferran. The award was created to celebrate exceptional football talents at the end of each year.

Established in 1956, the Ballon d’Or was originally known as the European Footballer of the Year award and was limited to European players at European clubs. However, this phenomenon changed when AC Milan’s George Weah became the first non-European to win the award.

George Weah won the Ballon d'Or in 1995
George Weah won the Ballon d’Or in 1995 via Getty Images

Since then, the award has celebrated exceptional talents outside of Europe, and Lionel Messi, a South American, has gone on to win it eight times.


Leave a Comment