The prestigious Ballon d’Or award was announced on November 29 in which Lionel Messi won his seventh title while Alexia Putellas won her first Ballon d’Or Féminin title in the ceremony conducted in Paris.
This is a record achievement for Messi, who has won two more titles than his arch-rival Cristiano Ronaldo. Messi won the last edition of the Ballon d’Or in 2019 before last year’s awards were canceled due to the pandemic. He also won in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and in 2015. The 34-year-old scored 38 goals in 48 games last season for Barcelona and led Argentina to the Copa America title in July after losing in four major international finals. Robert Lewandowski finished second in the voting with Jorginho third in the row.
“Today I’m here in Paris. I am very happy, really very happy, I really want to continue to fight and reach new objectives. I don’t know how many more years but I am really enjoying myself. I thank my teammates at Barça, Paris & Argentina,” Messi said after receiving the award.
The 27-year-old Alexie Putellas won the award for the first time after helping Barcelona to a treble and scoring 26 goals in 42 appearances. She was an instrumental player in Barcelona’s treble-winning season, helping the club to victories in the Champions League, the Spanish league, and the Spanish Cup. The award for women was introduced in 2018 and won by Norway’s Ada Hegerberg, while American Megan Rapinoe became the second winner the following year. Last year’s awards were canceled amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
The award is one of the oldest and generally regarded as the most prestigious individual award for football players. It has been awarded since 1956, although between 2010 and 2015, an agreement was made with FIFA, and the award was temporarily merged with the FIFA World Player of the Year and known as the FIFA Ballon d’Or. However, the partnership ended in 2016, and the award reverted to the Ballon d’Or, while FIFA also recovered to its own separate annual award The Best FIFA Men’s Player. The recipients of the joint FIFA Ballon d’Or are considered winners by both award organizations.
Originally, the award was given only to players from Europe and was widely known as the European Footballer of the Year award. In 1995, the award was expanded to include all players from any origin that have been active at European clubs. The award became a global prize in 2007 with all professional footballers from around the world being eligible.
The Ballon d’Or is the most coveted honor by any footballer but it wasn’t until recently that the women’s game has been acknowledged. The Ballon d’Or was founded by sports publication France Football in 1956, however, this is only the third year for the Ballon d’Or Feminin after a year’s absence due to the coronavirus pandemic.