THIS year’s Ballon d’Or has been confirmed cancelled after coronavirus impacted the season.
The shock announcement has come from media organisation France Football, who present awards to the best footballers in the men’s and women’s game.
The announcement will come as a bitter blow to Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski, who was the odds-on favourite to win it, The Sun UK reports.
It would have been the first time the 31-year-old Polish striker would have collected the award.
He has scored an impressive 51 goals in just 49 games for Bundesliga champs Bayern in all competitions.
Unsurprisingly, Lewandowski being denied the chance of glory was the talk of social media.
It will also be the first time there has been no winner since the prize was inaugurated in 1956.
Lionel Messi won for a record sixth time in 2019 although his duopoly with five-time winner Cristiano Ronaldo, with 11 of the last 12 victories between them, could have been broken this time round.
But Pascal Farre, editor in chief of France Football magazine which founded the award 64 years ago, has confirmed the worldwide impact of the Covid-19 crisis has forced the surprise decision.
His explanation appears convincing though.
Farre said: “There will be no edition in 2020 because it turns out, after thoughtful consideration, that all of the conditions are not met.
“We believe that such a singular year cannot – and should not – be treated as an ordinary one.”
The decisions by the French government and Ligue 1 chiefs to end the season in March appears to have been the prime driver for a decision that means Liverpool stars Virgil Van Dijk and Mo Salah miss out on the chance to lift the trophy.
Farre insisted the decision was “responsible” and served to protect the “credibility and legitimacy” of the award.
He added: “Two months (January and February) out of the 11 generally required to form an opinion and decide who should lift the trophies represent far too little to gauge and judge.
“The other games were played – or will be played – in unordinary conditions, behind closed doors, with five replacements, the Champions League Final Eight played as single games.
“Finally, all the award seekers will not be in the same boat and some have seen the season cut short.
“Therefore, how can we establish a fair comparison?
“To avoid overly convoluted calculations and projections, we chose the least bad of the options.”