Why the Ballon d’Or still doesn’t care about women’s football

Aitana Bonmati was awarded the Ballon d’Or after winning the World Cup with Spain and Champions League with Barcelona

The show was always going to be about Lionel Messi. For the eighth and perhaps final time, the greatest player in the world won the Ballon d’Or, and in the glitz, glamour, and sparkly tuxedos of the Paris ceremony, there could be few who disagreed the night belonged to the Argentine after his World Cup-winning year.

The Ballon d’Or is more than that, though, or so it claimed at the beginning of the two-hour ceremony on Monday night. Host Didier Drogba declared the presentation would be a celebration of the best male and female players in the world. Yet apart from the outstanding Aitana Bonmati, the Spain and Barcelona midfielder who deservedly picked up her first Ballon d’Or award, the best women’s players in the world were barely recognised at all.

There were some improvements: Barcelona won Women’s Club of the Year, a new prize which honoured the European champions and treble winners, but throughout the evening were constant reminders that the Ballon d’Or did not care enough about the women’s game: you could start with scheduling the ceremony in the middle of a women’s international window, and on the eve of a busy night of fixtures in the Women’s Nations League.

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