The prestigious Ballon d’Or will not be awarded this year because the coronavirus pandemic has disrupted the soccer season. Awarded by France Football magazine, the Ballon d’Or has been given out every year since Stanley Matthews won the first one in 1956. Lionel Messi has won it a record six times – one more than long-time rival Cristiano Ronaldo. À circonstances exceptionnelles, dispositions exceptionnelles. Pour la première fois de son histoire, débutée en 1956, le #Ballondor France Football ne sera pas attribué en 2020, faute de conditions équitables suffisantes. Nos explications sur ce choix : https://t.co/LgRr8GCuKD pic.twitter.com/Z1x3L3QBGV — France Football (@francefootball) July 20, 2020 The magazine started giving out a women’s award in 2018, but that has also been put on hold. “It’s such a strange year that we couldn’t treat it as an ordinary one. Let’s say that we started talking about [making the decision] at least two months ago,” France Football editor Pascal Ferre said in a telephone interview. “It isn’t a decision we took lightly but we had to accept it couldn’t be a normal or typical Ballon d’Or winner, and what really worried us it that it wouldn’t be fairly awarded.” Because the game’s rules have been modified during the pandemic, the award itself was impacted. “The season started with certain rules and ended with other rules. In January and February, soccer was played in front of full stands. Then from May and June it was with empty stands,” Ferre said. “Then we had the five substitutes rule and not three. Then other changes happened in terms of the competitions, notably the final eight [eight-team knockout format] for the Champions League when it had started with home and away legs.” With the European Championship and the Copa America postponed this year, the Champions League would have massively weighed on the award’s outcome but with a format inadvertently providing a short cut for an eventual victor. “The Ballon d’Or would have been decided over just three games: quarter final, semi-final, final,” Ferre said. “There were loads of changes [to soccer’s rules] which are totally legitimate and which we don’t contest given the worldwide health crisis, but we couldn’t consider this as a typical year. Exceptional circumstances led to an exceptional decision.” Ronaldo will not be able to equal Messi this year, but he could find himself in the same team for the first time.