Golden Ball vs Golden Boot

Golden Ball vs Golden Boot – What’s The Difference?

Many great footballers boast of their golden ball or golden boot trophies. These accolades are awarded to the very best in football.  

The golden ball and golden boot have a great history and retain immense interest from fans and professionals alike. However, due to their enormous prestige, they may be confused sometimes.

Here is what you need to know about the differences between these 2 awards:

The difference between Golden Ball (Ballon d’Or) and the European Golden Shoe

The Golden Ball (Ballon d’Or) is an award given to the best player in world football based on his performance and achievements during the calendar year. The esteemed France Football magazine awards it.  

On the other hand, the European Golden Shoe is an accolade awarded to the player with the highest league goal tally of the season across Europe. L’Equipe Magazine organised the award until 1997, when the European Sports Media group became the awarding body.   

Here is a further comparison between these 2 awards:


France Football magazine created the Ballon d’Or award in 1956. It has been awarded every year except in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic

During this long period, France Football and the supreme governing body of football, FIFA, merged their accolades into the FIFA Ballon d’Or. This partnership started in 2010 and ended in 2015

On the other hand, L’Equipe created the Golden Shoe award during the 1967-68 season. It was initially called the “Soulier d’Or”. L’Equipe organised the award until 1991, when the Cyprus FA protested over a controversial snub against a Cypriot player.

The Golden Shoe was not awarded again until the 1996-97 season. Another organisation, European Sports Media, reintroduced the award with changes to the selection process and has been responsible for the accolade ever since. 


From its inception until 1994, the Ballon d’Or award was exclusive to European players. Therefore, it was previously known as the European Footballer of the Year Award.

France Football changed the award criteria in 1995, and the prize was extended to non-European players in European clubs. From 2007, the award became an intercontinental accolade available to any player who performed the best within a year before the last ceremony.

Every year, France Football’s editorial team compiles a 30-man shortlist, made available for voting. However, more experts like Didier Drogba, Chelsea legend and Ballon d’Or ambassador, will be involved in the shortlisting process with recent modifications.  

Ballon d’Or votes depend on the following criteria:

  • Individual performances during the period.
  • Collective achievements.
  • Player’s ability and sense of Fairplay.

On the other hand, the Golden Shoe is awarded to the highest goalscorer across European leagues. Thus, the direct criteria are the total goals scored during the league season campaign. 

Unlike the Ballon d’Or, there is no editorial shortlist, and players only have to score as many goals as possible.

However, the award will only be achievable for the best goalscorers. Thus, attackers (strikers and wingers) usually dominate the prize, and other positions stand generally little chance. Brilliant goalscorers outside Europe are not eligible for the Golden Shoe as well.


Journalists from all over the world will vote to decide the ultimate Ballon d’Or winner. A total of 100 journalists, each representing the top 100 FIFA ranking countries, are responsible for choosing their top 5 players of merit from the 30-man shortlist.

Since the journalists pick their top 5 players and award points to them, their votes are conducted decided by these points:

1st choice5 points
2nd choice4 points
3rd choice3 points
4th choice2 points
5th choice1 point

Therefore, whichever nominee receives the highest vote points will win the Ballon d’Or.

On the other hand, the Golden Shoe requires no voting as it directly reflects the goalscorer’s efforts. However, a point-based system is used to grade goalscorers according to league difficulty. 

The total goals of a player are multiplied by his league points and ranked against other top goalscorers. The UEFA league coefficient rankings dictate this system as thus:

League rankingMultiplicative points
Top five leagues2 points
Leagues ranked 6 to 221.5 points
Leagues ranked 22 and below1 point

Since the European Sports Media implemented the points system in 1997, only three players outside the top 5 leagues have won the golden shoe

Time period assessed

For the Ballon d’Or, voters assess the players based on their performance during the previous season from August to July.

Formerly, the winner of the Ballon d’Or was to be exceptional all year round. However, this calendar year is usually calculated from November to October, which will contain the early part of the current season and the latter part of the previous season.

The Golden Shoe is awarded based on the goalscoring tally of the previous league campaign. Hence, the period of time considered is usually August-May for top leagues, but other European leagues may vary.

Announcement of results

The Ballon d’Or shortlist is usually announced in October. France Football announces the winner at the formal ceremony held in Paris by late November or early December.

The Golden Shoe has no shortlist, but a top ranking list is maintained based on form throughout the league season. After the season is concluded, a special ceremony is organised around November during the next season to honour the winner(s).

France Football has never announced more than one winner for the Ballon d’Or in a single year. But, on the other hand, two people have won the European Golden Shoe on multiple occasions.

Trophy design

The Ballon d’Or translates to “Golden Ball” in french. Thus, the awarded trophy has the distinct design of a golden ball with a base of crystals

Here is the trophy being presented to Zinedine Zidane after an illustrious year in 1998:

The Golden Shoe is designed in the form of a boot. The award is a golden sculpture of a boot placed on a marble base.

Here is the trophy being presented to Cristiano Ronaldo in 2014, which was his third win. 

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Past winners 

Here are the past winners of both awards in recent years

YearBallon d’Or European Golden Shoe
2021Lionel MessiRobert Lewandoski
2020Not awardedCiro Immobile
2019Lionel MessiLionel Messi
2018Luka ModricLionel Messi
2017Cristiano RonaldoLionel Messi
2016Cristiano RonaldoLuis Suarez

The World Cup awards a Golden Ball and Golden Boot too

The World Cup remains the biggest competition in football. Even though they are held once every four years, this tournament echoes for centuries. 

Only the very best can shine at the World Cup. Therefore, FIFA has awarded accolades in every World Cup since the 1982 edition to reward the brightest stars. 

The Golden Ball is awarded to the best performing player at the tournament. FIFA’s technical committee draws up a shortlist of players from which media representatives vote for their choice. 

Luka Modric was voted as the recipient of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Golden Ball.

The Golden Boot is awarded to the highest goalscorer at the tournament. No voting is required as the goal tallies are always transparent.

Harry Kane scored the most goals at the 2018 World Cup and received the Golden Boot.


Here’s a summary of these 2 awards:

Ballon d’OrEuropean Golden Shoe
Awarding bodyFrance FootballEuropean Sports Media
Year Founded19561968
CriteriaIndividual performance
Collective achievements
Player ability and sense of Fairplay
Highest goalscoring
tally across European leagues.
Number of players
on the shortlist
30As many as possible
VotingSelected journalistsDirect Merit
Number of
choices for voter
Time period assessedNovember – OctoberAugust-May
Announcement of winnerLate November
or Early December
Trophy designA spherical golden ball
with a base of crystals
A golden sculpture of
a boot on a marble base.


As the oldest award in football, the Ballon d’Or remains the most coveted prize attainable by players worldwide. However, journalists solely decide the nominees and eventual winners.

The European Golden Shoe has an illustrious history as well. However, it is only open to the highest goalscorers across the European leagues. Furthermore, no voting is applicable as it is a directly merited accolade.

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