November 3 – Football’s most prestigious awards ceremony, the Ballon d’Or, will be co-organised by UEFA from next year in what smacks of undermining FIFA’s own much-criticised annual prizegiving ‘Best’ awards.
The historic award has been handed out every year since 1956, bar the Covid-hit season of 2020, with Lionel Messi winning his eighth trophy earlier this week.
French publisher Groupe Amaury, owner of France Football magazine which presents the Ballon d’Or along with L’Equipe, has agreed a deal with UEFA to “contribute its football expertise, market the global commercial rights and organise the annual awards gala”.
UEFA, crucially, will not be involved in the voting procedure, which is done via each country’s international team captain, manager and a media representative nominating their top three players of the year.
“Together, UEFA and Groupe Amaury aim to enhance the stature and global reach of the awards while fostering a sense of unity and collaboration within the football community,” the statement added.
Under the new partnership, all existing Ballon d’Or awards will remain in place with the addition of men’s and women’s coach of the year prizes. It also means an end to the separate UEFA awards handed out in August each year, with the exception of the President’s Award.
UEFA’s decision to join forces with the Ballon d’Or will be widely viewed as a broadside to FIFA’s own Best Awards occasion which also honours top players and coaches. Significantly, the new deal comes seven years after a previous partnership between the French organizers of the Ballon d’Or and FIFA ended.
Jean-Etienne Amaury, Groupe Amaury CEO, commented: “We want to make the Ballon d’Or Awards Ceremony to be the global event that showcases and highlights the talent of top-level footballers in their individual and collective performances, to inspire all talents in football and aim to bring together the passion and enthusiasm of fans from all over the world.”
Contact the writer of this story at email@example.com