Ballon d'Or: How is voting for best player player in the world is decided?

The Ballon d'Or is the highest individual honour in football, recognising the best players in the beautiful game.

Football may be a team effort, but the Ballon d'Or spotlights exceptional players from the previous campaign – with the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo having dominated as winners in recent years.

But just how does the selection process for choosing a Ballon d'Or winner work and how does the voting procedure take place? Goal takes a look.

Contents

  1. What is the selection process for the Ballon d'Or?
  2. What is the voting process for the Ballon d'Or?
  3. How is a winner chosen for the Ballon d'Or?
  4. Most recent Ballon d'Or winners

What is the selection process for the Ballon d'Or?

The initial shortlist consisting of 30 names in contention for the Ballon d'Or is assembled by the editorial team at France Football, a French weekly football publication that is one of the most respected publications within the game.

Following the compilation of the 30-man shortlist, a jury of journalists representing a variety of footballing nations is put together, and they will then be given the task of voting for the players they deem worthy of first, second and third place.

What is the voting process for the Ballon d'Or?

After the jury has been selected, they will then choose their top five players from within the 30-man shortlist and then proceed to rank them based on descending order of merit.

The rules and regulations that the jury will need to follow to choose and rank their top five selections are below:

  1. Individual and collective performances (winners) during the year.
  2. Player class (talent and fair play).
  3. Overall judgment of the player's career.

The top-ranking player from each journalist's selection will receive six points, with the second-ranking player earning four points, then three, two and one going down from the rest of their top five picks.

How is a winner chosen for the Ballon d'Or?

After each jury member has selected their top five players for the Ballon d'Or award, the total points are calculated and added, and the player to receive the most number of points will be awarded the top honour.

In the event of a tie for first place, however, the players are determined by the number of times they are voted in first place. If the tie still stands, then the tie-breaker will consider the number of votes for second place, and then by the number of votes for third place.

If the tie continues, then a new ballot is organised to select a winner between the tied players.

If, after all of this, a winner is still unable to be named, then the France Football editorial director – as chairman of the jury – will be called upon to make an ultimate decision.

Most recent Ballon d'Or winners

Messi has won the most Ballons d'Or with six wins, while his rival Ronaldo has won five times. 

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The Argentine was last given the honour in 2019, after four years without a win.

There was no winner in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Year First place winner Second place Third place
2019 Lionel Messi Virgil van Dijk Cristiano Ronaldo
2018 Luka Modric Cristiano Ronaldo Antoine Griezmann
2017 Cristiano Ronaldo Lionel Messi Neymar
2016 Cristiano Ronaldo Lionel Messi Antoine Griezmann
2015 Lionel Messi Cristiano Ronaldo Neymar
2014 Cristiano Ronaldo Lionel Messi Manuel Neuer
2013 Cristiano Ronaldo Lionel Messi Franck Ribery
2012 Lionel Messi Cristiano Ronaldo Andres Iniesta
2011 Lionel Messi Cristiano Ronaldo Xavi
2010 Lionel Messi Andres Iniesta Xavi
2009 Lionel Messi Cristiano Ronaldo Xavi
2008 Cristiano Ronaldo Lionel Messi Fernando Torres
2007 Kaka Cristiano Ronaldo Lionel Messi
2006 Fabio Cannavaro Gianluigi Buffon Thierry Henry
2005 Ronaldinho Frank Lampard Steven Gerrard
2004 Andriy Shevchenko Deco Ronaldinho
2003 Pavel Nedved Thierry Henry Pablo Maldini
2002 Ronaldo Roberto Carlos Oliver Kahn
2001 Michael Owen Raul Oliver Kahn
2000 Luis Figo Zinedine Zidane Andriy Shevchenko