Football greats Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have been competing with each other to win the Ballon d’Or award over the last one decade. Messi has won the Ballon d’Or a record six times, one more than long-time rival Ronaldo.
The Ballon d’Or, the most prestigious individual trophy a player can win, will not be given out this year because of the disruption caused by the coronavirus outbreak, announced France Football, the magazine behind the annual award.
It will be the first time since its founding in 1956 that football's most coveted individual prize will not be handed out.
France Football said "there will be no edition in 2020, because it turns out, after thoughtful consideration, that all the conditions are not met. We believe that such a singular year cannot and should not be treated as an ordinary one", a statement by the award's organisers read.
It was mentioned that from a sporting perspective, the two months of January and February, out of the 11 generally required, is too short to decide a winner.
France Football also noted that it must not be forgotten that other games that were played or will be played are not being held under normal circumstances (e.g. behind closed doors, with five substitutions, and change to the Champions League format).
The award's organisers felt that this led to a lack of a level playing field.
"Therefore, how can we establish a fair comparison? To avoid overly convoluted calculations and projections, we chose the least bad of the options", the statement read.
As per the organisers, this decision is not what they wanted, but is the most responsible choice. Protecting the credibility and legitimacy of such an award also means ensuring its flawlessness over time.
"The Ballon d’Or will again gather football's big family and enthusiasts in 2021, to relive the happiness that surrounds the ceremonies as we have experienced them in recent years", the statement read.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on sports and saw all major football leagues shut down in March for over 2-3 months. The leagues have recently resumed behind closed doors with strict health and safety guidelines to protect every individual.