The wait is over. Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema won his first career Ballon d’Or on Monday, October 17, becoming the second oldest player to win the award at age 34 and the oldest since Englishman Stanley Matthews who won the very first Ballon d’Or in 1956 at age 41.
The Frenchman was rewarded for a magical 2021/22 season in which his team won both Spain’s La Liga and the UEFA Champions League and he finished as the top scorer in both competitions. He also won the UEFA Nations League with France.
It had been a foregone conclusion for months that Benzema would win the award as best player in the world given there was realistically no other player who came close to his achievements and trophy haul. He totaled 44 goals for Real Madrid and another six for France in 2021/22.
Despite sitting out the last few months due to an ACL tear in her left knee suffered in July, Barcelona star Alexia Putellas became the first woman to claim back-to-back Ballon d’Or trophies, fighting back tears during her acceptance speech. She admitted she didn’t think the Ballon d’Or would have been possible after missing out on the Euros with Spain. Before her injury, she won the domestic league title and led her team to the UEFA Champions League final.
Another Barcelona player took the Under-21 Player of the Year as Gavi succeeded teammate Pedri for the award crowning the best young men’s player. Real Madrid’s Thibaut Courtois was named goalkeeper of the Year, taking the Yashin Trophy. Robert Lewandowski won the Gerd Muller Award as the top striker for the second consecutive year after scoring 57 goals for club and country in 2021/22.
Manchester City claimed the Club of the Year award with six total Ballon d’Or finalists named, while Sadio Mane was recognized with the first Socrates Award designed to honor gestures of solidarity by players. Mane also finished second in the Ballon d’Or voting, falling just short of completing a quadruple of trophies with Liverpool in 2021/22 and leading Senegal to an Africa Cup of Nations title as well as clinching a 2022 World Cup finals berth.
In the wake of Lionel Messi’s controversial Ballon d’Or victory in 2021, the 2022 edition of the award saw organizers France Football make several changes to the voting process, including a reduction in the pool of media voters and modifications to the criteria used to judge players.
For the first time, players were judged on the European club season (August to July) and not based on the calendar year. Also, career achievements were no longer taken into consideration by the 100 media voters for the men’s award (one voter each from the top 100 nations in FIFA men’s rankings) and the 50 for the women’s trophy (top 50 nations in the FIFA women’s rankings).
Ballon d’Or awards list
There were a total of seven awards that were handed out on Monday at the Theatre du Chatelet in Paris for the 66th edition of the Ballon d’Or.
It was the first time that the Socrates Award was handed out. The Gerd Muller Trophy and Club of the Year were awarded for the first time in 2021.
- Men’s Ballon d’Or (Player of the Year): Karim Benzema (Real Madrid)
- Women’s Ballon d’Or (Player of the Year): Alexia Putellas (Barcelona)
- Kopa Trophy (Best U-21 men’s player): Gavi (Barcelona)
- Yashin Trophy (Best men’s GK): Thibaut Courtois (Real Madrid)
- Gerd Muller Trophy (Top scorer): Robert Lewandowski (Barcelona)
- Socrates Award (for player acts of solidarity): Sadio Mane (Bayern Munich)
- Club of the Year (club with most Ballon d’Or nominees): Manchester City
Ballon d’Or final results (Men)
Karim Benzema became the fifth Frenchman and first since Zinedine Zidane in 1998 to win the Ballon d’Or. It was Zidane who presented him the trophy in Paris.
|1.||Karim Benzema||FW||Real Madrid||France|
|2.||Sadio Mane||FW||Liverpool /
|3.||Kevin De Bruyne||MF||Man City||Belgium|
|4.||Robert Lewandowski||FW||Bayern Munich /
|7.||Thibaut Courtois||GK||Real Madrid||Belgium|
|8.||Vinicius Jr.||FW||Real Madrid||Brazil|
|9.||Luka Modric||MF||Real Madrid||Croatia|
|10.||Erling Haaland||FW||Man City||Norway|
|11.||Son Heung-min||FW||Tottenham||South Korea|
|12.||Riyad Mahrez||FW||Man City||Algeria|
|13.||Sebastien Haller||FW||Ajax /
|Rafael Leao||FW||AC Milan||Portugal|
|16.||Virgil van Dijk||DF||Liverpool||Netherlands|
|17.||Casemiro||MF||Real Madrid /
|Dusan Vlahovic||FW||Fiorentina /
|Luis Diaz||FW||Porto /
|20.||Cristiano Ronaldo||FW||Man United||Portugal|
|Phil Foden||FW||Man City||England|
|Bernardo Silva||MF||Man City||Portugal|
|25.||Joshua Kimmich||MF||Bayern Munich||Germany|
|Mike Maignan||GK||AC Milan||France|
|Antonio Rudiger||DF||Chelsea /
|Joao Cancelo||DF||Man City||Portugal|
|Christopher Nkunku||FW||RB Leipzig||France|
|Darwin Nunez||FW||Benfica /
2022 Ballon d’Or final results (Women)
|4.||Lena Oberdorf||MF||VfL Wolfsburg||Germany|
|6.||Alexandra Popp||FW||VfL Wolfsburg||Germany|
|10.||Lucy Bronze||DF||Manchester City
|13.||Alex Morgan||FW||Orlando Pride /
San Diego Wave
|18.||Trinity Rodman||FW||Washington Spirit||USA|
2022 Kopa Trophy final rankings (Under-21)
|2.||Eduardo Camavinga||MF||Real Madrid||France|
|3.||Jamal Musiala||MF||Bayern Munich||Germany|
|4.||Jude Bellingham||MF||Borussia Dortmund||England|
|6.||Josko Gvardiol||DF||RB Leipzig||Croatia|
|9.||Karim Adeyemi||FW||Borussia Dortmund||Germany|
|10.||Florian Wirtz||MF||Bayer Leverkusen||Germany|
2022 Yashin Trophy final rankings (Goalkeeper)
|1.||Thibaut Courtois||GK||Real Madrid||Belgium|
|5.||Mike Maignan||GK||AC Milan||France|
|6.||Kevin Trapp||GK||Eintracht Frankfurt||Germany|
|7.||Manuel Neuer||GK||Bayern Munich||Germany|
|8.||Jan Oblak||GK||Atletico Madrid||Slovenia|
|10.||Hugo Lloris||GK||Tottenham Hotspur||France|
Ballon d’Or live updates
All times ET
Close: That’s the end of the show. It was a night full of emotion, beginning with the Andrea Bocelli performance to start the night.
Putellas was fighting back tears as she works her way back from injury, Sadio Mane simply brings a smile to every fan, Robert Lewandowski meant what he said about Gerd Muller, and the Karim Benzema family affair on stage and his address to Ronaldo O Fenomeno and Zinedine Zidane was heartfelt.
And it was uplifting to see Sebastien Haller who is fighting to come back from testicular cancer. And ex-Ballon d’Or winner Andriy Shevchenko also held it together when talking about Ukraine and appealing to the audience not to forget about the war. It was a memorable show all-around.
4:10 p.m.: Benzema invited his mom and his son on stage and he lauded both Zidane and Ronaldo O Fenomeno for the inspiration they gave him. It was a mature acceptance speech and he’s also had months to prepare for this moment.
3:55 p.m.: Karim Benzema wins it. It’s Zidane who makes the announcement. And it’s Zidane who hands him the trophy.
Benzema calls Zinedine Zidane and Ronaldo O Fenomeno his idols, and he says he never gave up even when he was out of the French team for a period. There’s an excellent video feature that tells the story of his rise to best player in the world.
3:54 p.m.: Former Ballon d’Or winner and French World Cup legend Zinedine Zidane will be presenting the trophy.
3:52 p.m.: After the Manchester City acceptance speech featuring Kevin De Bruyne, Ederson, chief exec Ferran Soriano and sporting director Txiki Beguiristain, this event is about to close with the men’s Ballon d’Or.
3:45 p.m.: Former men’s Ballon d’Or winner Luis Figo is on the stage to award the Club of the Year. A video shows that Real Madrid came in third place, Liverpool finished on top of them in second place despite losing to Los Blancos in the Champions League final.
And the winner is Manchester City after winning the Premier League and reaching the semifinals of the UEFA Champions League. In addition, the club had six nominees for the Ballon d’Or, including Lucy Bronze for the women’s award.
3:35 p.m.: They’re taking another short break and running through the highlights of all the men’s players from No. 30 to No. 5.
3:30 p.m.: It’s time for the Yashin Trophy for Goalkeeper of the Year in 2021/22. Borussia Dortmund striker Sebastien Haller, who is battling testicular cancer, presents the award.
And no surprise it’s Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois who wins it. He was the Man of the Match in the UEFA Champions League final.
3:28 p.m.: Ballon d’Or (men). We get the next three players in the ranking: Thibaut Courtois (No. 7), Kylian Mbappe (No. 6), and Mohamed Salah (No. 5).
3:26 p.m.: After a Lewandowski highlight reel video, Didier Drogba puts him on the spot by asking him about Erling Haaland coming after him. (Was that really necessary?)
“I know that the new generation is also coming,” Lewandowski said. “But I am still here and I haven’t said the last word yet.”
3:20 p.m.: It’s Robert Lewandowski who wins the award for the second season in a row as the world’s best striker for the 2021/22 campaign. He scored 57 total goals in 2021/22 (50 for Bayern and 7 for Poland).
Of course, he broke Gerd Muller’s single-season Bundesliga record two seasons ago. He’s emotional as he accepts the award from Muller’s widow, and he thanks his ex-teammates at Bayern Munich.
Robert Lewandowski wins the Gerd Muller Award!
3:17 p.m.: After a pause in the show, it’s time for the Gerd Muller Award honoring the top men’s striker. Muller’s wife and daughter are on the stage to present the trophy.
3:01 p.m.: Alexia Putellas wins the Ballon d’Or again. Second year in a row for the Barcelona and Spain star.
“On July 5 when I suffered my injury, I didn’t think this would be possible,” Putellas said on stage. “I hope the next time I speak it will be on the field.”
2:56 p.m.: Women’s Ballon d’Or. It’s time to crown the best women’s player on the planet. The five finalists: Bonmati, Mead, Kerr, Oberdorf and Putellas.
But before the award, 2004 Ballon d’Or winner and Ukrainian star Andriy Shevchenko, who will present the women’s award, offered the following message followed by a lengthy applause from the crowd on hand.
“It’s been a very difficult moment since the war started for all Ukrainian people. I’m so proud of how my country defends and fights for their freedom,” Shevchenko said. “It’s very important to remember the war is still going, but most important to stay beside Ukraine and help.”
2:53 p.m.: Bayern Munich forward Sadio Mane wins the inaugural Socrates award. The nicest person in all of football and Senegal’s national team captain earns it. He’s known for all the good he does back home in Africa, building schools and hospitals in his home country.
“I’m sometimes shy to talk about it, but I’m happy to do what I can for our people and to make things better,” Mane says up on the stage. And Didier Drogba urges players to follow in Mane’s footsteps and make a difference.
2:48 p.m.: Time for the Socrates Award. Socrates’s brother Rai, who played for PSG in France and Brazil, is on the stage and will present this trophy which recognizes demonstrations of solidarity by a player. It’s the first year that this award is being presented.
2:45 p.m.: Men’s Ballon d’Or: We find out that Erling Haaland (No. 10), Luka Modric (No. 9) and Vinicius Jr. (No. 8) are the next on the list.
2:43 p.m.: Barcelona’s Gavi wins the Kopa Trophy. Two years in a row that a Barcelona player takes it. And he ends his acceptance speech with a “Vizca Barca.”
2:39 p.m.: The Kopa Trophy is up first. Ronaldo O Fenomeno and last year’s winner Pedri are going to present this award. Remember that Pedri didn’t make the cut although he was still age eligible.
2:36 p.m.: Didier Drogba and Sandy Heribert are on the stage. Everyone is still getting over Bocelli’s performance. Give everyone a few minutes.
They reminded everyone of the seven awards up for grabs. And now there’s a video montage of the final 10 men’s players who have yet to be ranked. We’ll find out soon enough.
2:30 p.m.: The formal ceremony is underway with Andrea Bocelli singing Nessun Dorma. Class. We’re getting the feels already.
This is more than football…
2:26 p.m.: The Ballon d’Or makes the grandest entrance of them all:
WHAT A NOISE! 🏎💨
2:17 p.m.: The Barcelona team mobilise as a unit. Players from both men and women teams together.
2:00 p.m.: Tupac fan Karim Benzema paying homage:
Karim, Karim, Karim…
1:52 p.m.: Zinedine Zidane in the house. It’d be a nice touch if he were the one to present the trophy to Karim Benzema. Zizou was the last French player to win the honor in 1998.
1:37 p.m.: A look at the hosts of tonight’s ceremony of the 66th Ballon d’Or. It’s football legend Didier Drogba (who never won a Ballon d’Or) and French journalist Sandy Heribert. The duo have hosted the last three ceremonies (2019, 2021, and now 2022).
Even if you don’t speak French, you’ll appreciate the behind-the-scenes look with the two hosts.
À l’occasion de la 66e cérémonie du Ballon d’or @francefootball, GQ est parti à la rencontre des deux maîtres de cérémonie : Didier Drogba et Sandy Heribert dans le but de leur soutirer quelques informations exclusives sur la cérémonie qui se déroulera ce soir. #BallonDor pic.twitter.com/0ZcSBiz9Np
— GQ France (@GQ_France) October 17, 2022
1:36 p.m.: More arrivals. It’s time for Bayern’s Sadio Mane and RB Leipzig’s Christopher Nkunku. And Kevin De Bruyne brought the family.
— Ballon d’Or #ballondor (@francefootball) October 17, 2022
Welcome to Paris!
1:30 p.m.: No one will complain about watching a Karim Benzema hype video. It’s his day after all.
🤍🔥 Karim, El Nueve, Benzema :
1:17 p.m.: Great to see Andriy Shevchenko repping Ukraine at the Ballon d’Or. He won the trophy in 2004.
1:14 p.m.: Players in tuxes. Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka and the Three Amigos from Barcelona: Gavi, Lewa, and Pedri.
— Invictos (@InvictosSomos) October 17, 2022
1:05 p.m.: Red carpet action begins in rainy Paris. Here’s USWNT’s Trinity Rodman, Dortmund forward Sebastien Haller, and Eintracht Frankfurt goalkeeper Kevin Trapp.
— Ballon d’Or #ballondor (@francefootball) October 17, 2022
— Ballon d’Or #ballondor (@francefootball) October 17, 2022
12:50 p.m.: Tottenham’s Son Heung-min takes the No. 11 spot, which means the Top 10 will include (in alphabetical order): Benzema, Courtois, De Bruyne, Haaland, Lewandowski, Mane, Mbappe, Modric, Salah, and Vinicius Jr.
12:28 p.m.: How about Rafael Leao (No. 14) ranked ahead of his Portuguese teammate Cristiano Ronaldo (No. 20). The team achievements may have influenced this ranking since Leao’s AC Milan won the Italian title.
The other eyebrow-raiser in this latest batch is Riyad Mahrez (No. 12) ranked way ahead of teammate Bernardo Silva (No. 12), who was so good (and important) for City last season. But production matters, and Mahrez found a way to rack up 24 goals and 9 assists in 2021/22, while Silva had 13 goals / 7 assists.
11:52 a.m.: Cristiano Ronaldo at No. 20 is a bit of a surprise. He had a solid goal-scoring season, but according to the new criteria the fact that his team didn’t win anything may have hurt his chances to rank higher.
11:34 a.m.: Another five players and a handful of Englishmen on the list including Harry Kane, Phil Foden, and Trent Alexander-Arnold.
11:10 a.m.: They’ve dropped the first six names — these all tied for last place. And if the Liverpool vs. Man City this weekend wasn’t enough to show you the talented Darwin Nunez needs plenty more work, this ranking makes it clear.
Mike Maignan and Christopher Nkunku being part of the bottom six is a bit of a surprise given their respective seasons (and that of their clubs). But the competition is fierce when you’re among the top 30 players in the world.
11:00 a.m.: Interesting how serendipitous the last few months have been for Frenchman Karim Benzema. Winning the Champions League in Paris, and coming back to the city for the Ballon d’Or and potentially having Zinedine Zidane — France’s last Ballon d’Or winner in 1998 — hand it to him.
🇫🇷 5 months ago, Karim Benzema lifted his 5th Champions League at Stade de France with the captain’s armband of Real Madrid.
Tonight, he will be crowned Ballon d’Or winner in Paris and will become the 1st Frenchman to win this trophy since Zinedine Zidane in 1998. #BallondOr pic.twitter.com/e5gac0oJfG
— Football Tweet ⚽ (@Football__Tweet) October 17, 2022
10:56 a.m.: Still no update on ranking reveal. But TopMercato.com is reporting that Karim Benzema is due an automatic one-year contract extension if he were to win the Ballon d’Or. Apparently the same happened with Luka Modric in 2018.
9:16 a.m.: More potential winners traveling to Paris? Beth Mead is a possible winner of the women’s Ballon d’Or, while Bukayo Saka is a contender for the Kopa trophy as best Under-21 player.
Next stop: Paris! 👋
8:45 a.m.: A reminder that the first names on the men’s Ballon d’Or ranking drop at 10:30 a.m. ET (3:30 p.m. UK). They’ll start with No. 30 and work their way up to No. 11. They’ll leave the Top 10 for the ceremony.
8:37 a.m.: Hope they left space in that plane for the trophies that are likely coming home. Karim Benzema is the popular pick to claim the Ballon d’Or, while Thibaut Courtois should win the Yashin trophy as best goalkeeper.
ESPN’s Gustavo Hofman says Vinicius Jr was also set to travel at one point, but Real Madrid “opted not to release more players outside of the winners.”
Who will win Ballon d’Or?
With pre-ceremony odds of -2500 (1/25 or 1.04), Karim Benzema was practically a shoo-in to win the 2022 Ballon d’Or.
The following odds came courtesy of Canada-based Sports Interaction, who hung the following numbers in the lead-up to the event. It’s nonetheless interesting to see the names of the three players who were believed to have the next best odds behind Benzema.
|Karim Benzema||Real Madrid||France||-2500|
|Kevin de Bruyne||Man City||Belgium||+2184|
|Virgil van Dijk||Liverpool||Netherlands||+2621|
|Robert Lewandowski||Bayern Munich||Poland||+2621|
|Cristiano Ronaldo||Man United||Portugal||+3495|
How does voting for Ballon d’Or work?
Voting for the Ballon d’Or was revamped following the controversial victory by Lionel Messi over Robert Lewandowski in the 2021 edition.
The goal of award organizers France Football was to present more clearly defined voting criteria and make voting more selective in order that the final award does not turn into a popularity contest.
How finalists were determined
Awards organizers France Football generated the list of candidates for each award from three sources:
- France Football and L’Equipe journalists
- Former great and Ballon d’Or ambassador Didier Drogba
- Media members whose 2021 voting ballot matched the final rankings
New Ballon d’Or voting process for 2022
There were a handful of changes to the voting process introduced for 2022.
Media voters were limited to a single media member from the top 100 countries in the FIFA rankings for men, and the top 50 nations from women’s rankings. The belief is that this would ensure a more knowledgeable voter base given the importance of football in the country and the likelihood that matches from around the world are available to watch.
Voting criteria were updated to eliminate consideration for overall career performance and instead focus on three main factors:
- Individual performance in previous season from August-July (no longer by calendar year);
- Team success during the previous season;
- Player behavior and fair play during the season in consideration.
What time was the Ballon d’Or ceremony
The formal ceremony for the 66th edition of the Ballon d’Or kicked off at 8:30 p.m. local time (14:30 ET / 19:30 BST) at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, France. But the red carpet coverage kicked off roughly one hour before.
Award organizers France Football began unveiling the men’s Ballon d’Or rankings four hours before beginning at 4:30 p.m. Paris time, as a way of building up the buzz for the event. They left the Top 10 reveal for the formal ceremony.
Where to watch Ballon d’Or 2022
Only a few select countries, including Australia (SBS) and the USA (Paramount+), had a local broadcaster carrying the show. The rest of the world tuned in to the live stream provided by France Football via the channels of French sister publication L’Equipe.
|Australia||Tue, Oct. 18||05:30 AEST||SBS||SBS On Demand|
|Canada||Mon, Oct. 17||14:30 ET||—||DAZN.com, DAZN YouTube|
|India||Tue, Oct. 18||00:00 IST||Sony TEN 2||SonyLIV app/site|
|Malaysia||Tue, Oct. 18||02:30 MT||—||L’Equipe site, YouTube|
|New Zealand||Tue, Oct. 18||07:30 NZST||—||L’Equipe site, YouTube|
|Singapore||Tue, Oct. 18||02:30 SST||—||L’Equipe site, YouTube|
|UK||Mon, Oct. 17||19:30 BST||—||L’Equipe site, YouTube|
|USA||Mon, Oct. 17||14:30 ET||—||Paramount+|
Ballon d’Or live stream
Outside of those countries with a dedicated broadcaster, the rest tuned in via the YouTube channel and web site of France Football’s sister publication L’Equipe.