The Ballon d'Or award is awarded to the best-performing player within a year prior to the award ceremony. The award, considered the most prestigious individual honour for a footballer, was first introduced for men's football in 1956 and for woman footballers in 2018.

From 1956 to 1994, the Ballon d'Or award was given solely to footballers in Europe, for which the award was called the European Footballer of the Year award. From 1995 onwards, the eligibility to claim the holy grail was expanded to non-European players at European clubs until the award became a global prize in 2007.

From its inception until 2006, only journalists formed the jury to vote the winner of the Ballon d'Or award. But, as of 2007, national team coaches and captains were given the right to cast their vote in the process. 

Have you ever wondered how the shortlist is prepared in the first place? Or even on what grounds a winner is declared? There has indeed been a lot of dissension in the past over the winners, and this is how they were picked.

How is the Ballon d'Or winner selected?

The process of electing a Ballon d’Or winner begins with a shortlist of 30 footballers assembled by the editorial team at France Football. Since 2018, the publication has lined up a 20-player nominee list for the Ballon d’Or Feminin.

The jury, consisting of top journalists from around the globe as well as national team coaches and captains, are asked to vote. It’s worth noting that only one journalist per country can cast his/her vote.

The following criteria is taken into consideration for a member of the jury to cast their vote:

  1. Individual and collective performances (winners) during the year.
  2. Player class (talent and fair play).
  3. Overall assessment of a player's career.

Each voter will select their top five players in descending order of merit. The player deemed first in each journalist's selection is awarded six points, the second-placed player gets four points, down to one point for fifth place.

The journalists can pick players from their countries, but the captains cannot vote for themselves. They, however, can vote for their national or club teammates.

The votes are then counted, and the player - with the most points - is declared the winner of the Ballon d’Or award. In the case of a tie, the player with the most votes in the first place is considered the winner.

Feature image courtesy: AFP / Thomas Samson