The FIFA World Football Museum in Zurich this week opened a new exhibition, 'FIFA Ballon d’Or - A History', which will run until 11 January. This unique and free-to-enter exhibition offers fans the chance to see the coveted golden trophy, and to trace the history of the annual award given to the world’s best player.
The star attraction is, of course, the FIFA Ballon d'Or itself. Standing 28cm tall, with a diameter of 22cm and weighing 12 kilos, the trophy is handmade by a team at Mellerio dits Meller – a French jeweller founded in 1613. In recent years, two names have dominated the winners’ list but the award stretches back to a time well before Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo had even been born.
As well as the FIFA Ballon d’Or itself, the FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year award, the Puskás Award, the awards for the Men and Women’s World Coaches of the Year, the Fair Play Award, and the FIFA FIFPro World XI award will all be on display – the very trophies which will be given out at the FIFA Ballon d’Or ceremony on Monday, 11 January 2016.
Going back in time, the exhibition will present every past winner of the France Football Ballon d’Or from 1956 to 2009, as well as all FIFA World Players of the Year from 1991 to 2009. The two awards merged in 2010, and since then the prize has been known as the FIFA Ballon d’Or. Walking along this wall of past winners, visitors will learn about the voting process and how the two awards came together.
Originally reserved for European players, the first Ballon d’Or was given out by French daily France Football in 1956 – with legendary English winger Stanley Matthews winning the inaugural award.
Since then the rules have been changed to include any player from across the world, and the trophy has been won by some of the biggest names in football; Johan Cruyff, Michel Platini, Marco van Basten, and Ronaldo all deserving of a special mention – each having won the award three times.
But Lionel Messi may well be the most impressive, having won five awards: three FIFA Ballon d’Or, one FIFA World Player of the Year award and one Ballon d’Or France Football.
Messi is, of course, once again in the running this year alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar. But before the winner is decided, why not get along to the FIFA World Football Museum and find out more about this coveted award and its glittering history?