The Ballon d’Or is the individual accolade that every elite footballer covets more than any other accolade.
The prize, sometimes referred to as the European Footballer of the Year award, was established back in 1956 by France Football – but it changed slightly in 2010 after it merged with FIFA’s World Player of the Year accolade to create one super award.
However, after their six year partnership, France Football and FIFA are now going their separate ways. The FIFA Ballon d’Or will again be known as, simply, the Ballon d’Or from 2017 onwards.
France Football have also announced four significant rule changes, which might not go down well with European football’s top players.
Perhaps the most significant is the fact national team managers and captains will no longer have a vote. It’ll now be decided entirely be journalists from across the continent.
FRANCE FOOTBALL’S FOUR CHANGES TO THE BALLON D’OR
1. The voting will only include votes from journalists. National team managers and captains no longer have a vote.
Allowing national team captains never really worked. They all voted for their teammates, unsurprisingly, while ignoring their rivals – regardless of how well they performed over the calendar year.
We’re looking at you, Leo and Cristiano.
2. The shortlist of finalists for the Ballon d’Or award will increase from 23 to 30.
Is this really necessary? In each year, only three to five players will be regarded as serious contenders.
3. There will be no three-man finalists ahead of the award ceremony.
This rule change should make things a little more interesting when the ceremony rolls around.
4. The Ballon d’Or will be presented before the end of the calendar year, as oppose to January.
Having the Ballon d’Or ceremony in January did always feel a little strange, but December is usually a hectic month for footballers – particularly those plying their trade in England.
The 2016 FIFA Ballon d’Or will be the final time the award will run in its current format.
It’s then all change from 2017 onwards.
Do you think these rule changes will make the Ballon d’Or an even more prestigious award?