Argentina and Paris Saint-Germain forward Lionel Messi won the 2021 Ballon d’Or, his record-extending seventh Player of the Year award in his career (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015 and 2019). He beat out Bayern Munich and Poland forward Robert Lewandowski, who was the other top contender for this year’s honor. The final points margin was tight: 613-580.
Messi won the last Ballon d’Or award presented in 2019. The 2020 edition was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but Lewandowski was widely believed to be the likely winner before it was controversially scratched.
FC Barcelona star attacking midfielder Alexia Putellas won the women’s Ballon d’Or award, PSG goalkeeper Gigi Donnarumma was voted the best men’s goalkeeper in the world, and another Barcelona player, 19-year-old Pedri, was named the best men’s Under-21 player in the world.
Robert Lewandowski was named the inaugural Striker of the Year as the top scorer for both club and country, while European champion Chelsea FC took home the Club of the Year with the most candidates for the men’s Ballon d’Or award (tied with Manchester City at five players). The Blues’ women’s team also won England’s WSL and made the final of the UEFA Champions League.
Media around the world voted for three of the awards — the men’s and women’s Ballon d’Or and the Yashin Trophy for best goalkeeper — and 32 former Ballon d’Or winners voted on the best young men’s player. Two new awards, Striker of the Year and Club of the Year, were introduced for the first time by France Football, the French sports monthly which has run the Ballon d’Or awards since 1956.
2021 Ballon d’Or final results — Men
|2.||Robert Lewandowski||580||FW||Bayern Munich||Poland|
|4.||Karim Benzema||239||FW||Real Madrid||France|
|6.||Cristiano Ronaldo||178||FW||Manchester United||Portugal|
|8.||Kevin De Bruyne||73||MF||Manchester City||Belgium|
|11.||Erling Haaland||33||FW||Borussia Dortmund||Norway|
|15.||Raheem Sterling||10||FW||Manchester City||England|
|17.||Luis Suarez||8||FW||Atletico Madrid||Uruguay|
|18.||Simon Kjaer||8||DF||AC Milan||Denmark|
|20.||Riyad Mahrez||7||FW||Manchester City||Algeria|
|t-21.||Bruno Fernandes||6||MF||Manchester United||Portugal|
|t-21.||Lautaro Martinez||6||FW||Inter Milan||Argentina|
|23.||Harry Kane||4||FW||Tottenham Hotspur||England|
|25.||Phil Foden||2||FW||Manchester City||England|
|t-26.||Nicolo Barella||1||MF||Inter Milan||Italy|
|t-26.||Ruben Dias||1||DF||Manchester City||Portugal|
|t-29.||Luka Modric||0||MF||Real Madrid||Croatia|
2021 Ballon d’Or final results — Women
|1.||Alexia Putellas||186||MF||FC Barcelona||Spain|
|2.||Jennifer Hermoso||84||FW||FC Barcelona||Spain|
|5.||Lieke Martens||40||MF||FC Barcelona||Netherlands|
|6.||Christine Sinclair||36||FW||Portland Thorns||Canada|
|12.||Christiane Endler||19||GK||Olympique Lyon||Chile|
|13.||Stina Blackstenius||10||FW||BK Hacken||Sweden|
|14.||Samantha Mewis||8||MF||NC Courage||USA|
|15.||Irene Paredes||8||DF||FC Barcelona||Spain|
|16.||Ellen White||4||FW||Manchester City||England|
|19.||Sandra Panos||3||GK||FC Barcelona||Spain|
|20.||Wendie Renard||2||DF||Olympique Lyon||France|
2021 Kopa Trophy final results (Best U21 player)
|2.||Jude Bellingham||39||MF||Borussia Dortmund||England|
|3.||Jamal Musiala||38||MF||Bayern Munich||Germany|
|5.||Mason Greenwood||15||FW||Manchester United||England|
|7.||Florian Wirtz||8||MF||Bayer Leverkusen||Germany|
|10.||Giovanni Reyna||1||MF||Borussia Dortmund||USA|
2021 Yashin Trophy final results
|3.||Jan Oblak||GK||Atletico Madrid||Slovenia|
|5.||Manuel Neuer||GK||Bayern Munich||Germany|
|6.||Emiliano Martínez||GK||Aston Villa||Argentina|
|7.||Kasper Schmeichel||GK||Leicester City||Denmark|
|8.||Thibaut Courtois||GK||Real Madrid||Belgium|
|9.||Keylor Navas||GK||PSG||Costa Rica|
|10.||Samir Handanovic||GK||Inter Milan||Slovenia|
Ballon d’Or awards — live updates
All times ET
4:07 p.m.: They lit up the Eiffel Tower for Messi. After seven Ballon d’Or awards, why not? His face was projected on the Palais de Chaillot.
4:00 p.m.: Cool that Messi went out of his way in his speech to tell Robert Lewandowski that he should’ve won it last year and that France Football should give him a Ballon d’Or for his trophy case.
3:55 p.m.: And we have the winner: It’s Lionel Messi at No. 1, with Robert Lewandowski coming in at No. 2. That’s a record-extending seventh Ballon d’Or for Messi.
3:48 p.m.: Chelsea was named Club of the Year, a new award given to the team with the most candidates for the Ballon d’Or.
3:46 p.m.: We have the No. 3-5 finishers in the men’s Ballon d’Or: N’Golo Kante, Karim Benzema and Jorginho.
3:30 p.m.: The Yashin trophy award is up next for the top goalkeeper: It goes to Gigi Donnarumma of PSG and Italy. He was the star in Italy’s run to the Euro 2021 title.
3:27 p.m.: Didier Drogba personally takes a moment to recognize Denmark captain Simon Kjaer for his heroic acts in helping to save his teammate Christian Eriksen after he suffered cardiac arrest at Euro 2021:
3:25 p.m.: The next three players in the men’s Ballon d’Or were named: Kevin De Bruyne (No. 8), Mo Salah (No. 7) and Cristiano Ronaldo (No. 6).
3:18 p.m.: FC Barcelona attacking midfielder Alexia Putellas wins the third-ever women’s Ballon d’Or.
3:16 p.m.: Kylian Mbappe will be presenting the women’s Ballon d’Or next.
3:06 p.m.: The No. 9 and No. 10 players in the men’s Ballon d’Or ranking are revealed — PSG teammates Kylian Mbappe and Gigi Donnarumma.
Kylian Mbappé’s historical Ballon D’Or Rankings (Top 10):
— Get French Football News (@GFFN) November 29, 2021
2:59 p.m.: One of the two new awards in this edition, Striker of the Year, goes to Robert Lewandowski. It’s given to the player who scored the most goals for club and country combined. Is this a consolation award for Lewa? Remember, he was deemed the favorite for last year’s Ballon d’Or award, before it was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
2:51 p.m.: Now there’s a video tribute in the theater for football legends Diego Maradona and Gerd Muller, who passed away in the last year (Nov. 25, 2020 and Aug. 15, 2021, respectively).
2:45 p.m.: Pedri wins the Kopa award. He also finished No. 24 in the Ballon d’Or voting. He calls this the best way to celebrate his 19th birthday which happened just a few days ago on Nov. 25. Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund) and Jamal Musiala (Bayern Munich) finish behind the Barcelona star in the voting.
2:45 p.m.: The Kopa award for best men’s Under-21 player is about to be unveiled by Italian legend Fabio Cannavaro. Only former Ballon d’Or winners voted for the best young player award.
2:39 p.m.: The two new awards this year are going to be Striker of the Year and Club of the Year:
2:39 p.m.: Formula 1 drivers Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon deliver the two Ballon d’Or trophies (for men and women) to the theater.
2:30 p.m.: The show is underway in Paris. Legendary Chelsea striker Didier Drogba and Sandy Heribert are the hosts.
2:20 p.m.: Celebrities Zendaya and Tom Holland are also at the event:
2:12 p.m.: And now it’s Lionel Messi and his family arriving on the red carpet. Messi and his boys in identical sparkling-jacket attire:
2:05 p.m.: It’s no doubt a short trek for PSG star Kylian Mbappe, who’s walking the red carpet:
1:49 p.m.: It’s Robert Lewandowski’s arrival at the Théâtre du Châtelet:
1:06 p.m.: What is happening in Paris:
🧭 48°49’59.99″N, 2°15’0″E
📍 France Football headquarter
— Ballon d’Or #ballondor (@francefootball) November 29, 2021
12:55 p.m.: If you’re a gala that matters, of course you have a red carpet:
12:52 p.m.: And so here are the players who will finish in the Top 10: Benzema, De Bruyne, Donnarumma, Jorginho, Kante, Lewandowski, Mbappe, Messi, Ronaldo, Salah. Not a bad bunch.
12:51 p.m.: Erling Haaland couldn’t break the Top 10! The media vote placed him at No. 11.
12:47 p.m.: Hmmm. That smile could easily come from someone who was notified that he won the Ballon d’Or. And based on a New York Times interview with the France Football chief editor, the winner is in fact notified ahead of time.
12:46 p.m.: They’re coming in fast and furious now. Romelu Lukaku (No. 12) is two spots short of the top 10 after a spectacular 2021.
12:44 p.m.: It’s only right that Giorgio Chiellini would be right there alongside Leonardo Bonucci in the Ballon d’Or standings. They’re inseparable. Chiellini comes in at No. 13.
12:42 p.m.: In addition to coming in at No. 24 in the men’s Ballon d’Or voting, Pedri is also up for the Kopa trophy as top young player. He’s also in Paris:
12:34 p.m.: Another Italian player benefiting from a Euro 2021 bump is Leonardo Bonucci. Surprise entry at No. 14.
12:21 p.m.: Next Man City star named: Raheem Sterling. Ranked ahead of Mahrez, Foden and Dias at No. 15.
12:16 p.m.: Neymar finished a ways away from the Top 5 with voters placing him No. 16.
12:04 p.m.: Atletico Madrid and Uruguay’s Luis Suarez is announced at No. 17. He was one of Atletico’s most important players in its run to the La Liga title.
11:59 a.m.: A surprise finish for AC Milan and Denmark defender Simon Kjaer at No. 18. His 2021 was marked by more than just football.
11:55 a.m.: Another Premier League player in the Top 20: Chelsea’s Mason Mount, who’s just getting started at age 22.
11:34 a.m.: The latest Man City player, Riyad Mahrez, clocks in at No. 20.
11:31 a.m.: Another tie in the votes for Bruno Fernandes (Man United) and Lautaro Martinez (Inter Milan) for 21st place.
11:13 a.m.: Harry Kane (Tottenham) has had a quiet start to the 2021-22 season and comes in at No. 23. Interesting to imagine how a summer move could have impacted his final place.
10:59 a.m.: Phil Foden is hoping for a big 2022, but he’s in at No. 25 for the 2021 rankings. Also, not bad for a Ballon d’Or debut for Barcelona’s Pedri, who comes in at No. 24.
10:58 a.m.: We got a drop of three players tied for No. 26 in the voting: Ruben Dias (Man City), Gerard Moreno (Villarreal) and Nicolo Barella (Inter Milan).
10:36 a.m.: The two players finishing bottom in the men’s Ballon d’Or voting were revealed. It’s two vets: Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea) and 2018 Ballon d’Or winner Luka Modric (Real Madrid) are tied for last.
How does voting for the Ballon d’Or work?
The France Football editorial staff compiles the shortlist of finalists for each award before distributing it to voters with voting closing on Oct. 24. There were 30 names for the men’s award, 20 for the women’s Ballon d’Or and 10 each for the Kopa and Yashin trophies.
A panel of 180 journalists around the world was asked to vote (via a secure email system) based on criteria including individual and team performance in 2021, the player’s talent and sportsmanship, and the player’s overall career.
About 40 to 50 women’s football journalists vote on the women’s Ballon d’Or, while 32 former men’s Ballon d’Or winners vote for the best Under-21 men’s player (Kopa Trophy).
Each voter for the Ballon d’Or (men and women) voted for their top five, and each vote carried a points total:
- 1st place: 6 points
- 2nd place: 4 points
- 3rd place: 3 points
- 4th place: 2 points
- 5th place: 1 point
Voters for the Kopa Trophy and Yashin Trophy submitted a top three, and that points system works slightly differently:
- 1st place: 5 points
- 2nd place: 3 points
- 3rd place: 1 point
The voting results (by voter) will be published in the Dec. 4 edition of weekly publication France Football.
How to watch 2021 Ballon d’Or
- Date: Monday, Nov. 29
- Time: 2:30 p.m. ET (red carpet at 1 p.m. ET)
- TV channel: None
- Streaming: Paramount+, L’Equipe
The 2021 Ballon d’Or winners will be announced at a gala in Paris on Monday, Nov. 29. The event will be streamed live on Paramount+ in the USA. The red carpet coverage begins at 1 p.m. ET.
French sports daily L’Equipe will also carry the live broadcast on its channels (availability based on region).