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The award-winning student news site of Olympic Heights High School

The Torch

The 2023 Ballon d’Or Debate

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The 2023 Ballon dOr Debate

One of the most esteemed awards one can receive in soccer is only a short month away, and football fans are in a heated discussion about the future winner. The 2023 annual Ballon d’Or ceremony is being held on October 30th in the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, France. 

The Ballon d’Or (French for golden ball) ceremony was first held in 1956 by the French sports magazine France Football. For a short time, the ceremony was merged with FIFA to create the FIFA Ballon d’Or, however this deal only lasted for 2010-2015. After 2015, the awards split, the Ballon d’Or emerging as before and FIFA creating the FIFA Best Award. 

Despite the creation of the Best Award, the Ballon d’Or is still regarded as the highest individual award a player can get. 

The first ever recipient of the Ballon d’Or was English Stanley Mathews. Other notable winners include the first and only African recipient George Weah and the one goalkeeper to ever win the award, Soviet Lev Yashin. The player to win the most ever Ballon d’Ors is Lionel Messi with seven awards. In addition, Messi also holds the record for consecutive wins four years in a row. Cristiano Ronaldo has won the Ballon d’Or five times; however, he holds the record for most nominations at 17 nominations.

During the 2020 season, it was decided that there would be no Ballon d’Or awarded due to the COVID-19 pandemic cutting the season short. Many fans argue that Polish Robert Lewandowski should have won the award that year. The following year Lewandowski was beaten out by Messi, sadly leaving him empty handed.

Recently, the criteria for Ballon d’Or nominations has changed. In 2022, it was announced that the award was no longer judged for a player’s performance during just that calendar year, but instead the previous year would be taken into account as well. 

The current holder of the award is French footballer Karim Benzema, who beat runner ups Senegalese Sadio Mane and Belgian Kevin De Bruyne. The previous year’s Ballon d’Or was the first to not feature Lionel Messi as a nominee; however, this year he is set to possibly win the award. 

“Messi or Haaland?” is the big question every football fan is asking themselves regarding this upcoming Ballon d’Or ceremony. 

“Winning the 2023 Ballon d’Or? I think there are chances,” the 23-year-old Norwegian footballer Erling Haaland replied when being asked if he thinks he will win – and chances are that he will. Haaland had an amazing season in the English Premier League with the club Manchester City, scoring an impressive 36 league goals in 35 appearances, setting the record for the English Premier league. Haaland also won The Treble, meaning that with Manchester City, he won the Premier League, FA Cup, and UEFA Champions League. A key fault for Haaland is the fact that his national team, Norway, didn’t make it to the World Cup, so he has no stats to compete with Messi’s World Cup trophy.

However, he is going up against Messi’s World Cup win and stats. Messi’s season at Ligue 1 French club Paris Saint Germain (PSG) was not as prolific as Haaland’s; however, his role as the Argentinian national team captain brought them to victory. Scoring 7 goals, the second top goal scorer after French player Kylian Mbappe, Messi provided 3 assists, making him the top player in terms of assists, and key playmaking makes him a high contender to win the Ballon d’Or.

The Norwegian national team coach Stale Solbakken has surprisingly backed Messi to win the award, stating in an interview, “It will most likely be between Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe, and Erling Haaland.” Solbakken continued, “Then there are also the outsiders just below them. If you ask me who I think will win, I will say that Messi will win because of the World Cup triumph. It always has an impact. Mbappe was there too.”

For now, the question still stands: will Haaland’s impressive goal rich season win him the Ballon d’Or? Or will Messi’s outstanding World Cup performance bring him his eighth Ballon d’Or? Or maybe even another player on the shortlist like Kylian Mbappe will triumph over the crowd favorites? The only way to find out is to watch the ceremony on October 30th!

 

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    SantiagoNov 6, 2023 at 11:57 am

    I loved this article! While I know some people are biased, Messi definitely deserved to win the Ballon d’Or.

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