The Ballon d’Or (French pronunciation: [balɔ̃ dɔʁ]; “Golden Ball“) is an annual football award presented by French news magazine France Football that is one of the oldest and generally regarded as the most prestigious individual award for football players. It has been awarded since 1956, although between 2010 and 2015, an agreement was made with FIFA, and the award was temporarily merged with the FIFA World Player of the Year (founded in 1991) and known as the FIFA Ballon d’Or. However, the partnership ended in 2016, and the award reverted to the Ballon d’Or, while FIFA also reverted to its own separate annual award The Best FIFA Men’s Player. The recipients of the joint FIFA Ballon d’Or are considered as winners by both award organisations.
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, from 1956 to 2006. After 2007, coaches and captains of national teams were also given the right to vote. Originally, it was an award only for players from Europe and widely known as the European Footballer of the Year award. In 1995, the Ballon d’Or was expanded to include all players from any origin that have been active at European clubs. The award became a global prize in 2007 with all professional footballers from around the world being eligible.