Ballon d’Or 2021: Lionel Messi Wins Record Seventh Ballon d’Or Award

Logan Kinajil-Moran, Contributing Writer

Monday, Nov. 29 marked the presentation of France Football’s 65th annual Ballon d’Or ceremony in Paris, one of the most, if not the most, prestigious individual award ceremonies in world soccer. The world’s best soccer players dressed up for the event, and celebrities like Tom Holland and Zendaya were in attendance.

The biggest award of the night, the Ballon d’Or, for the best soccer player of 2021, was won on the women’s side by Barcelona’s Alexia Putellas, and on the men’s side by Paris Saint-Germain’s Lionel Messi.

Some of the most illustrious players of all time like Zinedine Zidane, George Best and Ronaldinho have just one Ballon d’Or. After Monday night Lionel Messi, incredibly, has seven. That’s now two more than his rival Cristiano Ronaldo and more than every active soccer player in the world combined. Crucial to his win was Argentina’s Copa America win, where Messi captained his country to their first international trophy since 1993.

Among the other awards were Barcelona’s Pedri, who won the Kopa Trophy for the world’s best U-21 player (American Giovanni Reyna finished 9th for this award), PSG’s Gianluigi Donnarumma who won goalkeeper of the year, and Chelsea FC who won club of the year.

Among one of the more controversial decisions of the ceremony was the decision not to award the Ballon d’Or to Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski, who scored an incredible 64 goals in 54 games in 2021, being statistically the best goal scorer in the world. He was awarded the newly created Striker of the Year award; however, many saw this as just a consolation prize for one who deserved the Ballon d’Or. Lewandowski finished second in the standings for the award, followed by Chelsea and Italy midfielder Jorginho in third.

Amongst one of the more dramatic controversies of the night was the absence of five-time Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo. The Manchester United attacker, who hasn’t attended the awards since 2018, was the center of controversy after coming out against comments made by Ballon d’Or organizer Pascal Ferre. Ferre had come out in the New York Times saying that “Ronaldo has only one ambition, and that is to retire with more Ballons d’Or than Messi, and I know that because he has told me.” Cristiano Ronaldo came out on social media condemning the statement, claiming that it was a “lie” and that he “[doesn’t] win against anyone.”

After an eventful 2021 in the soccer calendar, 2022 should hold even more excitement, with the 2022 World Cup in Qatar sure to produce some iconic moments.

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