Any ardent football fan would know how young the FIFA Ballon d’Or was. Before its introduction in 2010, there existed two separate awards for the best players in the world: FIFA World Player Of The Year and Ballon d’Or (not associated with FIFA).
One fine day, FIFA decided to collaborate with the French magazine responsible for awarding the Ballon d’Or resulting in the FIFA Ballon d’Or we all know so well.
The decision of the merger was taken by the former FIFA president Sepp Blatter. The separate Ballon d’Or was first introduced 1956 with only European journalists being allowed to cast a vote.
FIFA World Player Of The Year, on the other hand, was initiated in 1991 and the voting included national team captains and coaches from all of the association members.
In the short lifespan of the combined FIFA Ballon d’Or, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo a complete duopoly over it. Messi managed to win it four times while Ronaldo won it twice with no other player recording a win.
The cause of separation is the end of contract between FIFA and France football with neither showing any particular interest in any sort of extension.
Though major awards in their own rights, the FIFA World Player Of The Year was considered the politically bigger of the two before the merger since it took the entire world into account while the Ballon d’Or only considered Europeans.
Even the likes of Pavel Nedved and Michael Owen had managed to get their hands on the latter. Great players, no doubt, but not even close to being the best in the world.
Post the separation, the new FIFA president Gianni Infantino is planning the revival of the World Player of the Year since he does not see any advantage to FIFA in continuing the merger.
A quite disappointing ending to a short-lived award. The resignation of Sepp Blatter, due to allegations of corruption, can be cited as the major reason for the abrupt end as it was a deal struck by him.
How ironic it is that such a major accolade perishes on such an underwhelming note. Nonetheless, now we have two major award ceremonies to look forward to.
The separation might even be a blessing in disguise as every player now has two awards to compete for and it’s not necessary that both will share the winner.
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