FIFA World Player of the Year Award

In 1991, some 30 years after the Ballon d’Or was first awarded to Sir Stanley Matthews, FIFA commenced the awarding of their own award. The FIFA World Player of the Year.

The award uses a Borda Count system to tally votes. Simply put a Borda count involves voters ranking their candidates in order of preference. Each rank of preference is assigned a certain point  value. Once all the voters have been counted the player with the most points is declared the winner.

Initially voting in the award was restricted to international coaches. Each coach was given three votes, worth five points, three points and one point. Coaches were free to vote on whoever they felt worthy of the title of the World’s Best Player.

This eventually led to some criticism after some rather questionable nominations. FIFA’s response was to provide voters with a shortlist of players to choose from. This change was introduced in 2004. At the same time FIFA expanded the amount of voters to include International Captains and select representatives from FIFPro.

It’s interesting to see FIFPro representatives get votes, effectively this means that they have influence over two of the major individual awards in Football with their own FIFPro award commencing in 2005.

The FIFA award has come under scrutiny due to the fact that it tends to focus mainly on players playing in Europe’s top competition, the UEFA Champions League. Players who have played outside of Europe have in the past been overlooked for nomination. Indeed the only player who has played outside of Europe and been nominated was Juan Roman Riquelme. Even then he only spent half the year playing for Boca Juniors in Argentina, the rest of the year was spent with his Spanish club Villarreal.

Whilst the Footballing world would generally consider the UEFA Champions League to be of a higher standard than it’s South American equivalent the Copa Libertadores. It’s the Copa that has produced the most World Club Champions. I think it’s fair to say that clubs from the South American traditionally took the World Club Championship more seriously than their European counterparts. This is changing though as we’ve seen in recent years, with AC Milan and Manchester United’s recent victories.

Another aspect of the FIFA award which is noteworthy is that since 2001 it’s been the only major award that has been awarded to both men and women. Mia Hamm was the first recipient of the female award.

Since the inception of the men’s award in 1991, Brazilian players have dominated the male awards, winning 8 out of the 18 awards to have been awarded.

Ronaldo and Zidane have won the award three times, likewise Birgit Prinz and Marta have won the female award three times.

The oldest male winner was Fabio Cannavaro who won the 2006 award when he whilst 33, whilst Mia Hamm is the oldest female winner at 30. The youngest male reciepent is Ronaldo who was 20 when he won in 1996, whilst Marta is the youngest female who was also 20 when she won the award for the first time in 2006.

Cristiano Ronaldo is the current holder of the male award, whilst Marta is the current holder of the female award.

Male FIFA World Player of the Year Award:

Year Rank Player Nation Club
2008 1st Cristiano Ronaldo Portugal Flag of England Manchester United
2nd Lionel Messi Argentina Flag of Spain FC Barcelona
3rd Fernando Torres Spain Flag of England Liverpool
2007 1st Kaká Brazil Flag of Italy Milan
2nd Lionel Messi Argentina Flag of Spain FC Barcelona
3rd Cristiano Ronaldo Portugal Flag of England Manchester United
2006 1st Fabio Cannavaro Italy Flag of Italy Juventus
2nd Zinedine Zidane France Flag of Spain Real Madrid
3rd Ronaldinho Brazil Flag of Spain FC Barcelona
2005 1st Ronaldinho Brazil Flag of Spain Barcelona
2nd Frank Lampard England Flag of England Chelsea
3rd Samuel Eto’o Cameroon Flag of Spain FC Barcelona
2004 1st Ronaldinho Brazil Flag of Spain Barcelona
2nd Thierry Henry France Flag of England Arsenal
3rd Andriy Shevchenko Ukraine Flag of Italy Milan
2003 1st Zinedine Zidane France Flag of Spain Real Madrid
2nd Thierry Henry France Flag of England Arsenal
3rd Ronaldo Brazil Flag of Spain Real Madrid
2002 1st Ronaldo Brazil Flag of Spain Real Madrid
Flag of Italy Internazionale
2nd Oliver Kahn Germany Flag of Germany Bayern Munich
3rd Zinedine Zidane France Flag of Spain Real Madrid
2001 1st Luís Figo Portugal Flag of Spain Real Madrid
2nd David Beckham England Flag of England Manchester United
3rd Raúl Spain Flag of Spain Real Madrid
2000 1st Zinedine Zidane France Flag of Italy Juventus
2nd Luís Figo Portugal Flag of Spain Real Madrid
Flag of Spain FC Barcelona
3rd Rivaldo Brazil Flag of Spain FC Barcelona
1999 1st Rivaldo Brazil Flag of Spain FC Barcelona
2nd David Beckham England Flag of England Manchester United
3rd Gabriel Batistuta Argentina Flag of Italy Fiorentina
1998 1st Zinedine Zidane France Flag of Italy Juventus
2nd Ronaldo Brazil Flag of Italy Internazionale
3rd Davor Šuker Croatia Flag of Spain Real Madrid
1997 1st Ronaldo Brazil Flag of Italy Internazionale
Flag of Spain FC Barcelona
2nd Roberto Carlos Brazil Flag of Spain Real Madrid
3rd
(tie)
Dennis Bergkamp Netherlands Flag of England Arsenal
Zinedine Zidane France Flag of Italy Juventus
1996 1st Ronaldo Brazil Flag of Spain FC Barcelona
Flag of the Netherlands PSV
2nd George Weah Liberia Flag of Italy Milan
3rd Alan Shearer England Flag of England Newcastle United
Flag of England Blackburn
1995 1st George Weah Liberia Flag of Italy Milan
Flag of France Paris Saint-Germain
2nd Paolo Maldini Italy Flag of Italy Milan
3rd Jürgen Klinsmann Germany Flag of Germany Bayern Munich
Flag of England Tottenham Hotspur
1994 1st Romário Brazil Flag of Spain FC Barcelona
2nd Hristo Stoichkov Bulgaria Flag of Spain FC Barcelona
3rd Roberto Baggio Italy Flag of Italy Juventus
1993 1st Roberto Baggio Italy Flag of Italy Juventus
2nd Romário Brazil Flag of Spain FC Barcelona
3rd Dennis Bergkamp Netherlands Flag of Italy Internazionale
Flag of the Netherlands Ajax
1992 1st Marco van Basten Netherlands Flag of Italy Milan
2nd Hristo Stoichkov Bulgaria Flag of Spain FC Barcelona
3rd Thomas Häßler Germany Flag of Italy AS Roma
1991 1st Lothar Matthäus Germany Flag of Italy Internazionale
2nd Jean-Pierre Papin France Flag of France Marseille
3rd Gary Lineker England Flag of England Tottenham Hotspur

Female FIFA World Player of the Year Award:

Year Place Player Nationality Club
2008 1st Marta Brazil Flag of Sweden Umeå IK
2nd Birgit Prinz Germany Flag of Germany Frankfurt
3rd Cristiane Brazil Flag of Sweden Linköpings/Flag of Brazil Corinthians
2007 1st Marta Brazil Flag of Sweden Umeå IK
2nd Birgit Prinz Germany Flag of Germany 1. FFC Frankfurt
3rd Cristiane Brazil Flag of Germany VfL Wolfsburg
2006 1st Marta Brazil Flag of Sweden Umeå IK
2nd Kristine Lilly United States Flag of Sweden KIF Örebro DFF
3rd Renate Lingor Germany Flag of Germany 1. FFC Frankfurt
2005 1st Birgit Prinz Germany Flag of Germany 1. FFC Frankfurt
2nd Marta Brazil Flag of Sweden Umeå IK
3rd Shannon Boxx United States
2004 1st Birgit Prinz Germany Flag of Germany 1. FFC Frankfurt
2nd Mia Hamm United States Flag of the United States W. Freedom retired
3rd Marta Brazil Flag of Sweden Umeå IK
2003 1st Birgit Prinz Germany Flag of Germany 1. FFC Frankfurt
2nd Mia Hamm United States Flag of the United States Washington Freedom
3rd Hanna Ljungberg Sweden Flag of Sweden Umeå IK
2002 1st Mia Hamm United States Flag of the United States Washington Freedom
2nd Birgit Prinz Germany Flag of Germany 1. FFC Frankfurt
3rd Sun Wen China PR Flag of the United States Atlanta Beat
2001 1st Mia Hamm United States Flag of the United States Washington Freedom
2nd Tiffeny Milbrett United States Flag of the United States New York Power
3rd Sun Wen China PR Flag of the United States Atlanta Beat
Ballon d'Or
FIFPro Player of the Year Award