Overview of the 2023 Ballon d’Or Ceremony

The 2023 Ballon d’Or ceremony had fierce competition, controversies, and many winners.

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The Ballon d’Or ceremony was held in Paris, France, on October 30, gaining the attention of football fans around the world. This annual ceremony is a place where the best player of the year is crowned and given the prestigious Ballon d’Or award. The criteria for who wins includes players’ performance, behavior on and off the pitch, and contributions to the team from early August to the end of July of the next year. This year, the two close favorites were forwards Erling Haaland and Lionel Messi, as they both displayed impressive performances while representing their club and country.

Because he broke many impressive records this season with Manchester City, Haaland was an obvious favorite to win the Ballon d’Or this year. Not only did he break the record for most goals in a Premier League season with a total of 36 goals in 35 appearances, but Haaland also went on to break the record for the youngest player to score 25 Champions League goals at the age of 22. Adding on to these impressive records, the forward also won the most prestigious array of trophies in England, the treble, consisting of the FA Cup, Premier League, and Champions League trophies. Especially since these feats were accomplished in his debut season in the Premier League, many believed that these accomplishments should’ve won Haaland the Ballon d’Or.

The other favorite to win this award was none other than Messi. The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner again displayed incredible performances for PSG and, most importantly, Argentina. While Messi didn’t have the greatest number of goals scored for PSG, with only 21, he had an additional 20 assists in all competitions, tallying a total of 41 goals and assists for PSG. Though these are very high numbers, by Messi’s standards, these numbers are fairly low. However, Messi had something else up his sleeve that made him this year’s favorite: the World Cup. As the Qatar World Cup was held mid-season last year, it counted toward the assessment of his performance. Unfortunately, Norway didn’t qualify for the World Cup, limiting Haaland’s performance for his country. However, Messi thrived with Argentina, winning Man of the Match for almost every game and scoring in all of the stages of the tournament: group stage, Round of 16, quarterfinals, semifinals, and the final. Though Messi didn’t win the top scorer award, he was the men’s best player of the tournament, proving the influence he had on the Argentina team, which eventually went on to win the tournament. By winning the World Cup and putting up decent numbers for PSG, Messi also became a favorite to win the award this year.

With Messi and Haaland head-to-head for the award, other accolades were awarded to players who gave different contributions on and off the pitch. 

Kopa Trophy

The Kopa Trophy is an award that is given to the best-performing player under the age of 21. This year, the award was given to Jude Bellingham, who was excellent for both Dortmund and England. For Dortmund, Bellingham scored 14 goals and had seven assists and was crucial in their Champions League campaign, taking them to the Round of 16 and rounding off their Bundesliga season by taking second place. 

Yashin Trophy

The Yashin Trophy, an award previously won by outstanding goalkeepers like Thibaut Courtois and Alisson Becker, awards the best-performing goalkeeper. This award is special in that the winner is selected by former Ballon d’Or winners. This year, Emiliano Martinez won the award for his performance with Aston Villa and importantly, Argentina. He is remembered for his crucial save in extra time in the World Cup final that allowed Argentina to bring home the trophy. 

Socrates Award

The Socrates Award is very special in that it awards a footballer for their humanitarian acts off the pitch. This year, Vinicius Jr. won the award due to his actions against racism, as he started a foundation that built schools in impoverished areas in his home country, Brazil. 

Gerd Müller Trophy

The Gerd Müller Trophy is an award given to the highest-scoring footballer. In this year’s ceremony, Erling Haaland picked up the award for a total of 56 goals for club and country. Perfectly fitting in with the Manchester City team, Haaland was a goal-scoring monster known for bagging goals for fun.

After all of the other awards were given out, it was time for the final award, the Ballon d’Or, to be given out. Everyone held their breath as David Beckham opened the envelope to announce the winner, and Messi was called, adding an eighth ball to his collection. Amidst the celebration, many came out and criticized the voters and voiced that Haaland should’ve won it after his magnificent season. With different controversies rising, official votes from international journalists, coaches, and captains of the national teams showed that Messi got 462 points while Haaland got 357 points, a 105-point difference between the two players. Each voter represents one country, limiting biased voting, which goes on to show that while everyone has their own opinion on who should’ve won this award, Messi goes down in the records as the winner of the 67th Ballon d’Or.