France Football, a French magazine, made tweaked the rules for awarding one of the most prestigious prize in football –  Ballon d’Or. They changes will come into effect this season when the likes of Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Luka Modric are expected to play their last FIFA World Cup. The tournament will be held in Qatar starting on April 1. 

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Lionel Messi, riding on his impressive show with Argentina at the Copa America, won the Ballon d’Or last year. It was his seventh award of the kind. Ronaldo has five against his name. 

However, France Football announced that the Ballon d’Or will now be awarded based on performances over the course of a regular European season, rather than a calendar year. 

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The French magazine has given out the award to men every year since 1956 and to women each year since 2018, though both were cancelled in 2020 because of the pandemic.

Another key change announced was a reduction in the number of voters. The men’s voting pool will be reduced from 170 to 100; with 50 voters for the women.

“As there is no question of abandoning the founding democratic principle (all votes are equal, whatever the country), the idea is therefore to limit the jury to an ‘elite’, to real connoisseurs. Thus, only the representatives of the first hundred countries in the FIFA rankings (and the fifty for women) will be “qualified” to vote. A tightening that reinforces the level of expertise and limits the (rare) fanciful votes. What will be lost in picturesqueness will be gained in legitimacy and reliability,” the magazine announced. 

 Voters also will no longer consider a player’s career accomplishments.

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“Because the rules have not changed much since their inception and the criteria frequently give rise to debate, we thought it appropriate to refresh the hierarchy of the constituent elements in the vote for greater consistency and clarity. And avoid any ambiguities. The Ballon d’Or is an individual award. Also, logically, criterion number 1 will focus primarily on individual performance and the decisive and impressive character of the contenders.”

“No more January to December,” the magazine said on Twitter. “The (Ballon d’Or) will now be awarded on the basis of a classic football season: August to July.”

The switch means the next Ballon d’Or award will encompass the 2021-22 season, ending with the women’s European Championship in July. The next award ceremony will be in October.