Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi will form part of a panel that will vote on a new award added to the Ballon d’Or family this year: the Trophee Kopa.
Named after Raymond Kopa, the legendary Reims, Angers, Real Madrid and France striker, who won the inaugural Ballon d’Or in 1958, the award will go to the game’s outstanding young player aged under 21.
Ronaldo and Messi, though, will not be alone on a panel of illustrious talents. Joining the pair will be all the surviving Ballon d’Or winners, from Luis Suarez, the oldest winner still alive, to the Juventus and Barcelona stars, who have monopolised the individual award for a decade.
Furthermore, there will be a Ballon d’Or equivalent for female players.
This prize has been welcomed by France international Wendy Renard, who plays for Lyon and is a Champions League winner.
“The birth of the Ballon d’Or Feminin is a step further for the evolution of our sport,” she told France Football. “It’s a step forward. Women’s football is evolving and inequality is shrinking, even if there is still room for improvement.”
Meanwhile, Marta, one of the most recognisable female players of the last decade, added: “I’ve always wanted to see a woman win this prestigious award. It’s a step forward towards quality to see such a prize.”
It will be a panel of journalists specialising in women’s football around the world who will vote on the winner, using the same system that is in place for the men’s game. A longlist of 30 players will be available for the award on October 8, the same day as the male Ballon d’Or candidates are made known.
The award will also be presented on December 3, along with the Kopa Trophy and the Ballon d’Or itself.
Meanwhile, FIFA’s The Best awards are set to take place on Monday, with Ronaldo finding himself in the final three of the voting along with former Real Madrid team-mate Luka Modric and Liverpool hitman Mohamed Salah.