The Ballon d’Or ceremony approaching, and the arguments about who deserves it are getting intense. However, there also seem to be some major misconceptions about what exactly goes into deciding the award, so I thought I’d clear things up for anyone who is confused.
The Ballon d’Or is awarded for a calendar year, not a season. Only performances from January 1, 2012 to December 31, 2012 are taken into account. If it happened last year – even if it was last December – it doesn’t count. It mattered in last year’s Ballon d’Or.
Each national team captain, national team coach, and media representative votes for three people. The first person gets 5 points, the second gets 3 points, and the third gets 1 point. National team captains cannot vote for themselves, but they can vote for players on either their national team or their club team. National team coaches and media representatives have no restrictions on who they can vote for. Those nine votes from each country comprise all the votes for the award, and full records of who voted how are published after the fact.
FIFA officials do not sit in a room and conspire about who to give the award to. There are flaws in how the award is handed out – exposure counts for a lot – but that isn’t one of them. The award goes to whoever got the most votes from the captains, coaches, and media representatives from each country.