Karim Benzema and Alexia Putellas are the winners of the Men’s and Women’s 2022 Ballon d’Or respectively.
The two were announced at an awards ceremony in Paris, France, on Monday.
The France and Real Madrid striker beat Liverpool’s Sadio Mane and Manchester City’s Belgian midfielder Kevin De Bruyne to the prestigious award, thanks to his prolific 2021/22 season in which he scored 44 goals in 46 appearances.
The 34-year-old becomes only the second player after Luka Modric (2018) to win the Ballon d’Or other than Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in the last 14 years.
Neither the Argentine nor Ronaldo were named on the 30-man shortlist for this year’s award.
This was Benzema’s tenth nomination.
Having been nominated for the award nine times before, Benzema’s performances last season grabbed global attention, including his feat in European football, where he scored 15 Champions League goals to help the Spanish side to a record 14th title.
“This prize in front of me makes me really proud,” said Benzema. “When I was small, it was a childhood dream, I never gave up. Anything is possible.
“I’m really proud of my journey here. It wasn’t easy, it was a difficult time for my family as well.”
Putellas beat Arsenal’s English forward Beth Mead and Chelsea’s Australian forward Sam Kerr to the coveted award.
She becomes the first women’s player in history to win the Ballon d’Or back-to-back.
“I’m very happy to be back here,” said Putellas. “A year ago I was able to win this prize and it pushed me to want to get even better.
“Without my team-mates this wouldn’t have been possible. I want to thank the technical staff and the coach as well. And to thank everyone involved at the club off the pitch.”
The Ballon d’Or winner is decided by votes of the captains and coaches of all the national teams of FIFA-affiliated federations, selected journalists from each of the top 100 nations in the FIFA world rankings and fans.