France Football has announced that the prestigious Ballon d’Or will be undergoing a few reforms, with the changes coming into play next season onwards.
According to L'Équipe, the decision will help offer more consistency and clarity to the whole process.
By season, not calendar year
The biggest change by far is that from now on, the players’ performances throughout a European season will be considered, and not the calendar year.
“By proceeding with a slight shift in time, with an abandonment of the calendar rhythm and an alignment of the BO (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.”
France Football have also confirmed that the World Cup 2022, which is scheduled to be held in Qatar, will be considered in the 2023 edition of Ballon d’Or.
Initial list to be more relevant
Another significant change is that more journalists will be allowed to contribute to the initial shortlist for the award. While the writers of France Football (and L'Équipe) were solely responsible for the list, journalists who have proved to be most insightful in the previous edition of Ballon d’Or will be rewarded with a chance to have their say for the Men’s and Women’s edition. Moreover, Chelsea legend Didier Drogba, who is the Ballon d’Or ambassador, will also be involved in choosing the initial shortlist.
Limited voters involved
Countries without “a big natural football culture or historical legitimacy” will not be allowed to cast their votes from the next edition of Ballon d’Or onwards. The jury is set to be limited to the top 100 countries in FIFA rankings for the men’s version and top 50 for women’s. France Football believes that by introducing this change, the votes will be more reliable and legitimate.
Over the years, the award has come under criticism for placing an inordinate amount of importance on collective trophies won by an individual during the length of the calendar year. The current change intends to reinforce the idea that the recipient will be rewarded mainly for their individual performances throughout the season, and not the collective trophies they have lifted.