France Football, organisers of the Ballon d’Or, have cancelled the 2020 edition of the award due to the “exceptional circumstances” the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the season.
In a statement on Monday, the organisers said the prestigious prize will not be handed out this season due to the “lack of sufficient fair conditions”.
The development makes it the first of its kind in the award’s history. The Ballon d’Or has been given out every year since Stanley Matthews won the first one in 1956.
Lionel Messi has won it a record six times – one more than longtime rival Cristiano Ronaldo.
“For the first time in its history, which began in 1956, the Ballon d’Or will not be awarded in 2020, due to the lack of sufficient fair conditions,” France Football wrote in a statement.
“Messi and Rapinoe (as well as De Ligt and Alisson, winners of the Kopa and Yachine Trophies) will have to wait a year. The winners of the last edition of the BO will have no successors at the end of the year. Because there will be no Ballon d’Or 2020 edition.
“Why? Because such a singular year cannot – and should not – be treated as an ordinary year. When in doubt, it is better to abstain than to persist.
“Because the Ballon d’Or trophy conveys other values – like exemplarity, solidarity and responsibility – rather than merely sporting excellence alone.
“Because the fairness that prevails for this honorary title could not be preserved, in particular at the statistical level and also in the preparation since all the aspirants to the award could not be rightly compared, some having seen their season cut radically short, others not. So how can we compare the incomparable?
“Because of our approximately 220 jurors (men and women combined) distributed around the world, some may have been distracted or diverted from their observation due to other priorities and emergencies to manage.
“We did not want to put an indelible asterisk on the prize list like “trophy won in exceptional circumstances due to the Covid-19 health crisis”. We will always prefer a small sprain to our history to a large scar.
“This is the first time since 1956 that the Ballon d’Or has taken a break. The situation does not enchant us but seems to us the most responsible and logical decision. Protecting the credibility and legitimacy of such an award also means protecting it over time.
“The Ballon d’Or story is too precious to take the risk of damaging it with a wobbly exercise. In these turbulent times, taking a break is a luxury and an invaluable necessity. So that football, as a whole, regains momentum, passion and emotion.”
The Ballon d’Or is presided over by France Football, having been a FIFA award from 2010 to 2015.