If reports emerging from Spain are to be believed, Lionel Messi is on the brim of winning his record sixth Ballon d’or. If he does manage to bag the award, he will become the most successful footballer since the inception of the award. However, it is worth highlighting that all of this would not have been possible had one key rule related to the awards would not have changed.
Currently, Messi along with Dutch star Virgil van Dijk are favourites to win the award this year. If the Argentine manages to win the award, it would be a massive achievement as it would be the sixth time he would get the top honour. On the other hand, if Van Dijk is declared the winner, he would get the coveted award for the first time in his career. In such a scenario, it is interesting to look back at this rule change in way back in 1995.
Notably, prior to 1995, Ballon d’Or was an award given exclusively to the best European footballers. This meant that players from other continents were not considered for the award. However, the rule was changed and this ensured that players from other continents could now be considered for the coveted honour.
As it turns out, Lionel Messi of Argentina has been the biggest benefactor from the change in rule. Currently, he has the joint highest number of Ballon d’Or awards (5)- a record he shares with long time rival Cristiano Ronaldo.
The rule was changed to promote universal inclusivity and fair enough Messi grabbed the award for five times in his career post that.
It remains to be seen if he indeed manages to lift the award for an unprecedented sixth time.