Through a letter, France Football, the award’s patron, announced four important changes for the future of the Ballon d’Or.

Ballon d'Or 2021: Messi presented his trophy to PSG's supporters
After his win in November 2021, Lionel Messi presented the Ballon d’Or trophy to Paris Saint Germain’s supporters at Parc des Princes. (Image: Youtube)

Starting 2022, the award will be given for merits achieved during a season, and not a full calendar year. “For more clarity, it has appeared more relevant to now assess players on classical football seasons, covering periods from August to July,” FF says.

“The next edition will therefore take into account the entirety of the 2021-22 football season, ending with the UEFA Women’s Euro (6-31 July 2022. The 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar will consequently be covered by the 2023 Ballon d’Or edition,” the French magazine clarified.

There will also be radical changes in the process of deciding each edition’s nominees. “We decided to reinforce this crucial stage of our process,” France Football explains.

“Our ‘permanent council’, consisting of expert football journalists from France Football and L’Equipe will be joined by Didier Drogba, the Ballon d’Or Ambassador and host of the ceremony, to elaborate the nominees to the Men’s Ballon d’Or, the Yachine Trophy and the Kopa Trophy,” the magazine reveals.

And that’s not all. One jury member will be added to bring his/her expertise to the nominees’ designations. Every year, the jury member described by France Football as “the savviest” will have a seat in the nominees’ designation process. For the 2022 edition, Vietnam jury member Truong Anh Ngoc and Czech Republic’s Karolina Hlavackova will take part in the Men’s and Women’s nominees’ designation.

Jury composition to face revamp

There will also be changes in the structure of the jury. In 2021, 170 jury members worldwide cast their vote for the most important individual prize in world football. From 2022 on, France Football “decided to strengthen the legitimacy of the jury by reducing voting members to respectively 100 and 50 ‘qualified’ members for the Men’s and Women’s Ballon d’Or, based on the FIFA ranking of the represented nations”. “In our view, this will guarantee a more expert panel, hence reinforce the credit of the results,” the magazine argues.

France Football also reiterates the criteria behind the Ballon d’Or award: “The Ballon d’Or is first and foremost an individual trophy. Consequently, criteria #1 will be focused on the individual achievements of the containers as well as their individual impact on their teams’ performance. But as football is a team sport, criteria #2 shall focus on the results, achievements and trophies won in the season by the teams of the nominees. Lastly, criteria #3 in the judgment shall be focused on class (football talent, elegance, and skills) and fair-play of the contenders, keeping in mind that exemplarity should be followed as well.”

Messi is the fifth favorite to win again in 2022

In November 2021, Leo Messi was awarded the Ballon d’Or for a record-breaking seventh time. Critics said Polish goal-machine Robert Lewandowski, who finished second, deserved to win.

For the 2022 edition of the prize, bookies place Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah as their favorite. Leading at +330, Salah is followed by Robert Lewandowski (+550) and Karim Benzema (+600). Kylian Mbappe is now at +750, with Messi only fifth at +1200.

Cristiano Ronaldo is not even inside the top 10, at +2000. The outcome of this season’s Champions League will be a key factor to influence the award. Regarded as one of the leaders in the new wave of top football players, Mbappe is likely to miss another chance of winning the Ballon d’Or this year after Paris Saint-Germain’s early exit in the Champions League. Also from the same category as Mbappe, Dortmund’s Erling Haaland (now at +1400) is seen as a marginal Ballon d’Or winning option himself.

Before PSG’s Champions League defeat to Real Madrid this week, Messi was the third favorite, behind Salah and Lewandowski.