Ballon d’Or award undergoes significant changes

PSG's Kylian Mbappe, centre, celebrates with PSG's Lionel Messi after scoring his side's second goal during the French League One soccer match between Paris Saint-Germain and Monaco at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris, France, Sunday, Dec. 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

PARIS (AP) — The Ballon d’Or will now be awarded based on performances over the course of a regular European season, rather than a calendar year, France Football magazine said Friday.

A reduction in the number of voters was among other changes announced, with the goal of streamlining the process. Voters also will no longer consider a player’s career accomplishments.

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

“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.”

Paris Saint-Germain and Argentina great Lionel Messi won for a record-extending seventh time and Alexia Putellas of Barcelona and Spain became the third winner of the women’s award for 2021. Messi edged out prolific Bayern Munich and Poland striker Robert Lewandowski.

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.

The World Cup in Qatar, scheduled Nov. 21 to Dec. 18, won’t be considered until the following season.

The men’s voting pool will be reduced from 170 to 100; with 50 voters for the women.

The magazine also clarified the criteria for the award. It’s based first on individual performance, then team performance, and finally fair play.