The two prizes combined for five years to become the Fifa Ballon d’Or but in 2016 reverted to their original formats
For five years the Ballon d’Or and the Fifa Men’s Player Award combined to recognise the world’s best footballer.
But in 2016 they split and reverted to their original formats – allowing for two different players to be celebrated as top dog.
The difference between the Ballon d’Or and the Fifa Men’s Player Award comes down to the organisations in charge.
The Ballon d’Or was initially set up by French publication France Football in 1956, with Sir Stanley Matthews its first winner.
It was often referred to as the European Football of the Year award, and was the first of its kind until 1991.
That year, Fifa introduced its own gong known as the World Player of the Year award, and from 1995 allowed players from outside Europe to be considered for the prize.
Both awards existed alongside each other until 2010, when they were joined by Fifa in order to create a single prestigious gong – the Fifa Ballon d’Or – which would recognise just one player as best in the world.
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In six years, Lionel Messi won it four times and rival Cristiano Ronaldo captured it twice.
But last year, Fifa president Gianni Infantino scrapped the combined honour and reverted back to the original system.
Ballon d’Or vs FIFA’s The Best: What’s the difference?
There are a number of differences between the two awards which set the Ballon d’Or and The Best apart from one another.
The magazine France Football is responsible for the Ballon d’Or, while football’s world governing body, FIFA, is the driving force behind The Best.
Furthermore, the time period the players are judged within varies.
While the Ballon d’Or takes into account a player’s performances over the course of the calendar year, The Best assesses players over the course of a season, so from summer to summer.
As such, they are awarded at different times of the year. The Ballon d’Or award ceremony is traditionally held in December of a given year, whereas The Best awards are given out in autumn – usually September.
They also diverge when it comes to the voting.
The winner of the Ballon d’Or is voted for exclusively by a panel of journalists from across the world. The Best, on the other hand, is decided by what FIFA describes as an “international jury” comprising the coaches and captains of national teams, journalists and fans.
Naturally, the trophies themselves are also different. The Ballon d’Or is a striking golden ball resting on a pyrite base which is made to look like a bed of crystals. FIFA’s The Best trophy, meanwhile, is a platinum and carbon construction, which resembles the highest prize in football – the World Cup.
First awarded in 1956, the Ballon d’Or (which is French for Golden Ball) is the older of the two accolades, with The Best first appearing in 2017.