The Ballon d’Or will not be awarded this year for the first time since it was launched in 1956 due to the 2019-20 season being disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.
The decision seems somewhat bizarre given that all of Europe’s major football leagues – except France – have been able to complete their campaigns.
The cancellation of the prestigious prize means the Juventus star remains one behind the Argentine.
The Ballon d’Or, awarded by France Football magazine, has been given out every year since Sir Stanley Matthews was the first winner 64 years ago.
The world player prize has been suspended due to what has been described as ‘a lack of sufficient fair conditions’ by France Football.
‘Such a singular year cannot – and should not – be treated as an ordinary year. When in doubt, it is better to abstain than to persist,’ a statement on the magazine’s website read on Monday.
‘The fairness that prevails for this honorary title could not be preserved, in particular at the statistical level and also in the preparation since all the aspirants to the award could not be housed in the same boat, some having seen their season cut radically, others not. How can we compare the incomparable?’
France’s Ligue 1 was the only division out of the top five European leagues that was cancelled amid the Covid-19 outbreak. Bundesliga, LaLiga, Serie A and the Premier League have or will complete the 2019-20 season behind closed doors.
Although the format of Europe’s elite competition was altered with the final knockout stages of the Champions League rescheduled as a mini-tournament in Portugal next month.
‘Protecting the credibility and legitimacy of such an award also means ensuring its flawlessness over time,’ the magazine’s statement continued.
‘In these turbulent times, taking a break is a luxury and an invaluable necessity.’
The women’s Ballon d’Or award, Kopa Trophy for the best Under 21 player, and Lev Yashin award for best goalkeeper have also been cancelled.
To fill this year’s gap, the magazine have created another trophy: the France Football Dream Team.
The magazine’s jury of 180 will elect history’s best team from a shortlist of five players in each position. The star-studded lineup will be known sometime in autumn.