FIFA World Player of the Year
The FIFA World Player of the Year is an association football award currently presented to the player voted as best in the world by coaches and captains of international teams. It began in 1991 as an award for the best men's player in the world; a women's award was added in 2001. In a voting system based on positional voting, each coach has three votes, worth five points, three points and one point, and the winners are ordered based on total number of points.
During the time that the men's award was presented, European-based Brazilian players dominated that award, winning 8 out of 18 editions of the prize, far ahead of the second country France, which won it three times. In terms of individual players who have received the award, Brazil leads with five, followed by Italy and Portugal with two each.
Sepp Blatter holds up the agreement creating the
FIFA Ballon d'Or in Johannesburg in July 2010
The women's award has had fewer individual winners. So far, only four players—one from each of four different countries—have won the award. Of these women, only 2011 winner Homare Sawa has won only one award. The award's youngest winner, male or female, was Ronaldo, who won at the age of 20 in 1996. He won it again in 1997 and 2002. Marta is the only player to win it five times in a row; Birgit Prinz won three times in a row, while Ronaldo, Mia Hamm and Ronaldinho won twice in a row. Marta is the only five-time winner, while Ronaldo, Zinedine Zidane, and Prinz have won the award three times. The oldest winner of either sex is Sawa, who was 33 when she won in 2011. The oldest male winner is Fabio Cannavaro, who was also 33 when he won in 2006, but whose birth date is one week after Sawa's. The youngest female winner is Marta, who won in 2006 at age 20, but was seven months older than Ronaldo in 1996.
In 2010, the FIFA World Player of the Year and France Football's Ballon d'Or award were merged and the world's best male player has since been awarded the FIFA Ballon d'Or each year.
Nomination and selection process
Following criticism from some sections of the media over some questionable nominations in previous years, in 2004 FIFA drew up a short list of 35 men and 21 women from which national team managers and, for the first time, team captains and representatives from FIFPro (the worldwide representative organisation for professional players) could vote.
Another criticism brought up against the men's nominations was that no player in activity outside of Europe was ever nominated for the award. Juan Román Riquelme was the only player nominated for the annual award who played for a team outside Europe within the year, on loan to Boca Juniors from Villarreal for the first half of 2007. Although players from several nationalities, of three continents, were nominated and won the award, they were all playing for European clubs at the time of their nomination or victory.
It was also suggested that players active in the leagues of other top non-European nations (such as the Argentine, the Brazilian or the Mexican Leagues), were generally overlooked for the award. Brazilian club teams won the first three editions of the FIFA Club World Cup, yet not one player from those teams was nominated for the men's world player of the year award, whereas the European champions that the Brazilian club teams beat in the last two finals had more than a few players nominated for the award.
FIFA World Player of the Year
List of male winners
Marco van Basten