It looks like the Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo will end up going down in history as the only two FIFA Ballon d’Or winners.
That’s because France Football, the magazine that established the Ballon d’Or award for the best European player, has ended its partnership with FIFA and will change the rules surrounding the award. FIFA has not yet announced plans for the FIFA Player of the Year award, which was the organization’s highest honor until merging with the Ballon d’Or in 2010.
Since the awards merged, Messi won it four times (2010, 2011, 2012, 2015) and Ronaldo won it twice (2013, 2014), making them the only two players to have won a FIFA Ballon d’Or. Kaka, who now plays for Orlando City SC, was the last player other than the two legends to claim both honors, having won both the Ballon d’Or and the FIFA World Player of the Year in 2007.
Under new rules announced by France Football, the Ballon d’Or shortlist will be expanded to 30 players and the final three players will not be announced before the award is presented. Voting for the award will be reverted to a select group of journalists rather than including national team captains and coaches, as it had under the FIFA merger.
The winner of the Ballon d’Or going forward will also be revealed before the calendar year ends. When FIFA awarded it, the winner was named at a gala event in January.
New FIFA president Gianni Infantino has reportedly showed interest in reverting back to the two separate annual awards, but no announcement has yet been made regarding FIFA’s World Player of the Year award.