For the first time, in 2018 a woman will be awarded with the highest individual accolade in football, the Ballon d’Or.
France Football magazine announced on Monday that there will be an award given to the best male and female footballers of the year on December 3rd in Paris. Later that evening, Marta was awarded The Best FIFA Women’s Player trophy.
Since 2001, FIFA have recognised the best female footballers and awarded them the FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year. Brazilian forward Marta has won the award a record six times. In 2016 the award changed to The Best FIFA Women’s Player which also incorporated fan voting that accounted for 25% of the overall vote. Two midfielders, Carli Lloyd from America and Lieke Martens from the Netherlands have taken home the award along with 2018’s winner Marta.
There was some debate amongst fans on Twitter as to whether or not Marta was a deserving winner. Her reputation as the greatest female footballer ever is less debated considering she has won the best female footballer award six times. However, there were a few eyebrows raised when she picked up the award last night. Fans thought there were other, more deserving candidates like Ada Hegerberg and Dzsenifer Marozsan, the other finalists, along with Samantha Kerr who was mentioned a number of times as a snub.
There will likely be many candidates to become the inaugural winner of the Women’s Ballon d’Or. If Lyon continue to reign nationally and in European competition, it is likely that there will be a similar shortlist to The Best FIFA Women’s Players shortlist in which six of the ten players represented Lyon, including finalists Hegerberg and Marozsan. A shortlist of 15 nominees will be released on October 8th.
It is worth noting that the announcement of the new awards came on the same day that The Best FIFA Football Awards were announced, at which Luka Modric took home the best male footballer award, ending the Messi and Ronaldo reign, and as mentioned previously Brazilian forward Marta was awarded the best female footballer award.
Whether this move was made to capitalise on the attention given to women’s football at FIFA’s Best awards ceremony or whether it was a way to discredit yesterday’s award and an attempt to overshadow and undermine it is up for debate.
A third award for the best young player of the year will also debut in December. The Kopa trophy, named after the first Frenchman to win the Ballon d’Or, Raymond Kopa, will go to the best player under 21. Unlike the Ballon d’Ors that will headline the ceremony, the winner of the Kopa trophy can only be voted for by former winners of the Ballon d’Or.
The Ballon d’Or or Golden Ball in English has been awarded since 1956 to the best male footballer over the previous year as voted by football journalists. For a six-year period between 2010 and 2015, the award was merged with the FIFA World Player of the Year to create the FIFA Ballon d’Or. Since 2016, the award has reversed back to being two separate awards. From 2008 to 2017 the award was dominated by Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo with the pair each winning the prize of the player of the year on five occasions.
Join the debate. Should Marta have taken home The Best FIFA Women’s Player award?