In breaking away from Ballon d'Or, FIFA institutes 'The Best' awards

Monday October 31st, 2016

ZURICH (AP) — FIFA wants fans to vote in its rebranded "The Best" world player award.

Online voting will now be a one-quarter share of polling for the annual men's and women's player and coach awards, FIFA said on Monday.

The main voting participants ahead of the Jan. 9 ceremony already included national team captains and coaches, plus media.

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have dominated FIFA's annual award, formerly known as the Ballon d'Or and World Player of the Year, since 2008. Messi has won five times and Ronaldo three.

Ronaldo was seen as favorite under the old voting rules to win for 2016 because Portugal won the European Championship and Real Madrid won the Champions League. Messi and Argentina lost to Chile in the Copa America final.

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A popular vote will also decide who wins a new "Fan Award" celebrating what FIFA described as "remarkable moments throughout the year involving exemplary and passionate football supporters."

Eight awards will be announced at the ceremony in Zurich, though not the presidential award created by Sepp Blatter which FIFA suspended in January and has now scrapped.

FIFA called its annual awards "The Best" when the Ballon d'Or name reverted back to its partner of six years, France Football magazine.

France Football created the longest established individual honor in 1956 as a vote of journalists only and will award it again in December.

FIFA said it will announce candidate lists for the player and coach awards this week, and announce three-member short lists on Dec. 2.

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