International Sport

Public to vote in FIFA player awards

Image: A TV team is reflected in a logo of FIFA a meeting of the FIFA Council at its headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland October 13, 2016. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

ZURICH (Reuters) – FIFA will allow the public to vote in a rebranded version of its player of the year of the award, world soccer’s governing body said on Monday.

The annual ceremony in Zurich, which until last year was jointly organised with France Football and known as the Ballon d’Or, would be renamed “The Best FIFA Football Awards” following a split with the French magazine, a statement said.

Under the new system, half the votes would belong to the players and coaches of the world’s 211 national teams and half to the public, who will take part via an online ballot, and selected media representatives.

“This event will be about football and its most passionate participants – players, coaches and fans,” said FIFA president Gianni Infantino.

“It is a new event with new approaches to celebrating the game we all love.”

Eight awards will be handed out altogether, including the best coach, best women’s player and women’s coach, the fair play award and fan award.

Last year’s player of the year award, won by Lionel Messi ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo, saw apparently tactical voting by the players.

Messi, voting as Argentina captain, picked his Barcelona team mates Luis Suarez, Neymar and Andres Iniesta and Ronaldo, voting as Portugal captain, chose his Real Madrid team mates Karim Benzema, James Rodriguez and Gareth Bale.

(Writing by Brian Homewood, editing by Ed Osmond)

Copyright 2016 Thomson Reuters. Click for Restrictions.

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