Monday, July 5, 2010

Who will be FIFA Ballon d'Or?

World football's two most prestigious player of the year awards will merge into a single title called the FIFA Ballon d'Or from next year.

Europe's existing Ballon d'Or and FIFA's World Player of the Year award will cease to exist as individual entities and the new award will be given for the first time in January.

"From January of next year we will have one single trophy for the best player in the world," FIFA president Sepp Blatter said Monday.

The deal was announced by France Football magazine publisher Marie-Odile Amaury and Blatter, though no financial details of the initial four-year partnership were revealed.

"We are very proud to be announcing this together with you," Amaury told the FIFA president at a ceremony on the sidelines of the World Cup.

Blatter said the agreement "can only be positive" for relations between FIFA and France, which have been troubled since the national team's humiliating first-round exit at the World Cup.

France Football created its European Footballer of the Year award - the Ballon d'Or, or Golden Ball - in 1956 from a poll of European journalists. The award was later opened to players of any nationality playing in Europe, then to those from any club worldwide.

FIFA's first presented its award in 1991. It is voted for by national team coaches and captains. France Football's award has set the agenda by being presented first, traditionally in early December, in Paris.

FIFA's honor has been announced later in December or January at a gala ceremony held in recent years at the Opera House in the governing body's home city, Zurich.

For the past five years, the same player has doubled up to win both awards: Ronaldinho, Fabio Cannavaro, Kaka, Cristiano Ronaldo and current holder Lionel Messi.

The new award will be voted for by journalists, coaches and captains from FIFA's 208 national members.

Blatter said FIFA's world player of the year award for women would continue under a new name yet to be determined.

FIFA and France Football also will create new awards for the world's best coach and best technical director, and continue selecting a world's best starting lineup of 11 players. That honor was created in conjunction with FIFPro, the international umbrella group of players' unions. The awards will be presented at a gala ceremony scheduled Jan. 10 in FIFA's home city of Zurich.

"It will be really a bouquet of flowers and ladies will be included (in having an award category)," Blatter said.

Responding to reporters' questions, the FIFA president said relations with the French Football Federation were good - "despite a few disturbances reported by the media."

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