Ballon d’Or vs FIFA’s The Best Awards: Unpacking the Contrasts, Legacy, and Prestige – Which Holds Greater Weight?


The footballing world witnesses two pivotal ceremonies each year, the Ballon d’Or and FIFA The Best awards, honoring outstanding players and coaches. These accolades serve as a testament to the remarkable impact individuals have had on the sport during specific periods. While both awards hold immense prestige, they bear distinct characteristics that set them apart.


The Ballon d’Or, with its inception dating back to 1956, boasts a significantly longer legacy compared to FIFA The Best, which was introduced more recently in 2017.



The determination of winners is influenced by different groups of voters. The Ballon d’Or historically relied solely on the decisions of global journalists, except for the period from 2010 to 2015, when a collaborative effort with FIFA was undertaken. On the other hand, FIFA The Best employs a more diverse voting system, encompassing national team coaches, captains, journalists, and even fan participation.


Another notable contrast lies in the timing of the voting and award announcements. The Ballon d’Or recipients are typically unveiled in October, with the assessment focusing on performances within a single season. Meanwhile, FIFA’s award ceremony takes place either at the commencement or conclusion of a calendar year, with players judged based on their displays throughout that period.


The physical representation of these awards also differs significantly. The Ballon d’Or is symbolized by a golden ball, while FIFA’s The Best features a platinum trophy, reminiscent of a scaled-down World Cup.

 FIFA’s Association with the Ballon d’Or:

In a brief period from 2010 to 2015, FIFA collaborated with the French publication France Football to present the Ballon d’Or. This venture led to the merger of player and coach votes, which formerly determined FIFA’s World Player of the Year award and currently contribute to The Best. The accolade was temporarily renamed the ‘FIFA Ballon d’Or’ during this partnership. However, in 2015, FIFA pursued its own independent awards after parting ways with France Football.

Players Who Have Won Both Awards:

While the Ballon d’Or and FIFA The Best have distinct characteristics, they have often crowned the same players in concurrent years. The sole exception thus far occurred in 2021, when Lionel Messi controversially secured the Ballon d’Or, while Robert Lewandowski was honored with FIFA’s The Best award. This anomaly underscored the uniqueness of that particular year in footballing accolades.

Year Ballon d’Or
(Men / Women)
FIFA The Best
(Men / Women)
2016 Cristiano Ronaldo / — Cristiano Ronaldo / Carli Lloyd
2017 Cristiano Ronaldo / — Cristiano Ronaldo / Lieke Martens
2018 Luka Modric / Ada Hegerberg Luka Modric / Marta
2019 Lionel Messi / Megan Rapinoe Lionel Messi / Megan Rapinoe
2020 (Not held due to COVID-19) Robert Lewandowski / Lucy Bronze
2021 Lionel Messi / Alexia Putellas Robert Lewandowski / Alexia Putellas
2022 Karim Benzema / Alexia Putellas Lionel Messi / Alexia Putellas