Ballon d’Or cancelled due to Covid-19, first time in award’s history

Paris, Jul 20 (efe-epa).- The annual Ballon d’Or football trophy will not be awarded this year for the first time in its history given the exceptional circumstances brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic.

France Football said last year’s winners Lionel Messi and Megan Rapinoe would have to wait before being able to pass the honor on  to their successors.

“For the first time in its history, since 1956, France Football’s Ballon d’Or will not be awarded in 2020 because of a lack of fair conditions,” the organization said in a statement.

France Football said the variations in the way the seasons played out across Europe, where some leagues were cut short by the pandemic and others were postponed, did not lay a level playing field for judges to choose winners.

The board decided to scrap the 2020 ceremony altogether, rather than postpone until next year.

The French Ligue 1 was the only major European league that decided to call an early end to the season this year. The English Premier League, won by Liverpool, the German Bundesliga, won by Bayern Munich and Spain’s LaLiga, won by Real Madrid, returned after a hiatus. Italy’s Serie A is ongoing and is scheduled to run into early August.

The Champions League is due to be played as a reshuffled mini-tournament in Portugal instead of the habitual two-leg quarter and semi-final set-up.

France Football said it did not “want to put an indelible asterisk on the prize list like ‘trophy won in exceptional circumstances due to the Covid-19 health crisis’.

“Protecting the credibility and legitimacy of such an award also means ensuring that it is flawless over time.”

Barcelona’s Argentina star Messi picked up his sixth Ballon D’or in the men’s category last year while United States team co-captain Rapinoe won the women’s category.

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