Organizers of the annual “golden ball” award popularly known as Ballon d’Or, France Football, is going to introduce a female version of the prestigious award later in France this year.
The prestigious award has been presented to a male player every year since Stanley Matthews won the inaugural accolade in 1956.
A list of 15 nominees for the women’s prize will be announced in October by France Football magazine, alongside the 30-strong male list.
This year’s award ceremony will take place in Paris on 3 December.
“Women’s soccer is a booming discipline that deserves the same respect as men’s soccer,” said magazine editor in chief Pascal Ferre.
“It’s coming to maturity and growing bigger. More than 760 million TV viewers watched games at the last women’s World Cup in 2015 – this did not happen by chance.”
Conceived by sports writer Gabriel Hanot, the Ballon d’Or award honours the male player deemed to have performed the best over the previous year, based on voting by football journalists.
Originally it was an award for players from Europe. In 1995 the Ballon d’Or was expanded to include all players from any origin that have been active at European clubs.Finally in 2007 it became a global prize with all professional footballers from around the world being eligible.
Between 2010 and 2015, an agreement was made with FIFA and the award was temporarily merged with the FIFA World Player of the Year, and known as the FIFA Ballon d’Or. However, the partnership ended in 2016 and the award was reversed back to Ballon d’Or, while FIFA also reverted to its own separate annual award (now named The Best FIFA Football Awards).