The Ballon d’Or is an annual prize awarded to the footballer who, in the opinion of experts outside the world of club football, has excelled during the preceding year, and have earned the title of ‘Golden Ball’. The voting is by nomination, with the winner being decided on a points system, and it is now a global participatory event. The Ballon d’Or nominees list was just announced and as usual, the football world is completely abuzz.
Ballon d’Or results are usually announced in the beginning of December and the award ceremony is conducted in the first week of January.
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Ballon d’Or Award Background
The present Ballon d’Or was created from the merging of two previous awards – The European Footballer of The Year and the FIFA Footballer of The Year. The European award had been created and run by the magazine ‘France Football’ since 1956, and the FIFA ‘Player of The Year’ was first awarded in 1996.
For many years after 2005, both prizes were awarded to the same player, and the two organizing bodies combined to award a joint prize. However, when the ‘Global Ballon d’Or’ was announced during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, the previous collaboration was terminated after a 6-year relationship.
The Voting System
For the Ballon d’Or, footballers are nominated by international journalists, national team coaches, and captains. Each person is allowed to nominate three players – each with a diminishing number of votes. For instance, your first nominee would get five points, your second three points, and your third one point. The combined totals of each players ‘votes’ by all those entitled to make a selection, determine the winner.
Previous Winners & Past Patterns – Ballon d’Or Nominees
Previous winners of the original Ballon d’Or, right back to its creation in 1956, have included some of the most illustrious names in football.
The first ever winner was Stanley Matthews, the list has included names such as Kaka, Johan Cruff, Franz Beckenbauer, Eusebio and Van Basten. However, by far the most successful award winner has been Lionel Messi, with Christiano Ronaldo close on his heels, needing to win only one more award in order to equal Messi’s tally. In 2017, of course, Christiano Ronaldo is once again on the list of nominees.
Ballon d’Or Nominees – 2017
The full list of nominees contains 30 names – Increasingly the countries of origin are getting a wider spread, with the inclusion of players from formerly less well-represented or organized nations now producing world-class and exceptional players. In particular, it is indicative of the more global nature of world-class football, that the African nations are now also represented and it is no longer a list entirely populated by players from Latin America or Europe.
The 2017 list contains players from 17 different nations, and from three continents. France now is the best-represented country with 4 players, with single players coming from Croatia, Slovenia, Poland, England, Bosnia, Senegal, Colombia, and Gabon. It is probably more accurate to say that Brazil (3) has fallen behind France, for most who follow ‘First-Class Football’ this is seen as rather surprising. The surprise ‘movers’ up the table seem to be Belgium, who equal Brazil with 3 nominees.
The full list of players is as follows – (in alphabetical order in order not to imply ‘ranking’!) –
Aubameyang (Bor.Dort/Germany), Benzema (Real Mad/France), Bonucci (Juventus/Italy),
Buffon (Juventus/Italy), Cavani (PSG/Uruguay), Coutinho (Liverpool/Brazil),
De Bruyne (Man.City/Belgium), De Gea (Man.U/Spain), Dybala (Juventus/Argentina),
Dzeko (Roma/Bosnia), Falcao (Monaco/Colombia), Griezmann (Ath.Mad/France),
Hazard (Chelsea/Belgium), Hummels (B.Mun/Germany), Isco (Real Mad/Spain),
Kroos (Real Mad/Germany), Kane (Tottenham/England), Kante (Chelsea/France),
Lewandowski (B.Mu/Poland), Mane (Liverpool/Senegal), Marcelo (Real Mad/Brazil),
Mbappe (Mon/PSG/France), Mertens (Napoli/Belgium), Messi (Bar/Argentina),
Modric (Real Mad/Croatia), Neymar (PSG/Brazil), Oblak (Ath.Mad/Slovenia),
Suarez (Barce/Uruguay), Ramos (Real Mad/Spain), Ronaldo (Real Mad/Portugal).
Ballon d’Or Winner Prediction – 2017
Everyone who sits on the stand, or watches televised matches, whether they have a particular team they support or not, believes that they have an opinion on ‘The Greats’ and the ‘Also-Rans’. Just as always, all those views would vary widely and would create many a good debate in the bar or in the sports club. The voting system for the Ballon d’Or nominees seems as fair as they can make it, but it is one hundred percent certain that many people reading the list above will throw their hands up in horror at who has been included – and more importantly, who has been omitted.
People’s expectations of ‘the beautiful game’ differs greatly: some fans, like some national managers, like the tactics of a game finely balanced, with as much thought given to stopping the opposition scoring as given to the more ‘high profile’ strikers who are expected to win the games. Other managers, or fans, or indeed other journalists, want a high scoring game, end to end, with the team that gets the ball in the back of the net the most times winning the game. So, some people would see that it was just as ‘right’ to nominate a defender for the Ballon d’Or as a high profile striker. Others would see this as sacrilege!
Experts are of the opinion that this year’s award will once again go to ‘Cristiano Ronaldo’ and I don’t see how we can argue with that, considering he has been really decisive over the past few months. Messi has even been banned for the next 4 matches for cursing at the linesman, this would surely impact his chances. Barcelona, currently have a chance of winning 3 trophies, whereas Real Madrid can win 5. At the moment, our prediction favors Cristiano Ronaldo, and it’s unlikely to change before the announcement in December.
So the list is populated by people with varying opinions, and hopefully, contains excellent players from all parts of the pitch. But does it? What do you think? Do you think that the goal scorers get too high a slice of the cake? Are they given too much kudos? Are they dependent upon others to ‘assist’ and do they invariably ‘win’ the game?
Who would be on your Ballon d’Or nominees list? It is hard to be impartial, but realistically it would not be your local team’s top scorer, even though he has kept your team up or got them promoted and you personally owe him a debt of gratitude. But partiality and nostalgia apart, if you were given the five, three and one points to distribute amongst your three most highly regarded players, who would you choose, and in what order would you distribute the points?
Alternatively, you might agree completely with the already populated list (above) and if that is the case, you might easily know, even as you read this, who will win the Ballon d’Or 2017 because you must be thinking on exactly the same wavelength as the pundits who decided the outcome. My favorite player is in the list above – Cristiano Ronaldo. What about yours?