The Ballon d’Or (translation: Golden Ball or Ball of Gold) is an award presented to the best football player of the year, as decided by vote from 180 international journalists. Lionel Messi, who is regarded as one of the best, if not the best football players of all time, has won the title 7 times, followed by Cristiano Ronaldo, who has won the title 5 times and himself is considered by many to be the best football player ever.
Although Ballon d’Or winners are overwhelmingly considered to be deserving of the title, it often comes with a sprinkling of controversy. Lionel Messi won in 2021 despite having inferior statistics than Robert Lewandowski. The responsibility given to journalists to vote for a winner arguably harms the credibility of the award as it can be viewed as a popularity contest or a subjective measure of performance, something that isn’t required when there are a plethora of objective statistics that detail a player’s performance during the season.