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What’s the difference between FIFA The Best awards and the Ballon d’Or?

Following a split between FIFA and French publication France Football in 2016, we now have two major individual award ceremonies each year.

Not long after being elected as FIFA president, Gianni Infantino severed ties the organization held with France Football and the subsequent termination of the deal ended the governing body’s involvement with the Ballon d’Or award (running since 1956) and spawned FIFA’s bespoke individual award, ‘The Best’.

Although both awards have the same premise in awarding outstanding individual talent, there are some aspects to differentiate both awards.

Ballon d’Or

The Ballon d’Or award was created in 1956 by French journalist Gabriel Hanot as an accolade to celebrate individual brilliance in the team game and is generally regarded as the most prestigious within the game. Blackpool’s Stanley Matthews was the winner of the first award with Leo Messi the current holder with the Argentine scooping the prize in 2019 with the pandemic seeing no winner in 2020. FIFA became involved in the award from 2010-2015 when the award was re-branded the ‘FIFA Ballon d’Or’.

The winner is selected following the votes of a select number of journalists from around the world and s based in player performance during the calendar year. The ceremony takes place traditionally in December each year (albeit the 2021 edition will take place in late November) and is staged in the French capital.

‘The Best’ awards are also based on individual performances based on a football season as opposed to calendar year which is the parameter used by the Ballon d’Or.

The awards have branched out to also include awards for the best young player, female player, goalkeeper…

FIFA ‘The Best’

Following the breakaway from France Football, FIFA staged the first ‘The Best’ ceremony in January, 2017 in Zurich (Switzerland) with Cristiano Ronaldo picking up the first award. The voting for this award is carried out by an international jury which composes of national team managers and captains, a pool of journalists and a percentage of the vote is also made by fans who vote through the FIFA website.

Polish striker Robert Lewandowski was awarded ‘The Best’ for 2020 and the next edition of the event will be held ‘virtually’ in Zurich of January 2022 with voting closing on 10 December. ‘The Best’ awards also include a series of sub-awards for the like of ‘Best Goalkeeper’, ‘Best Women’s Player, ‘Best Coach’…

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