The FIFA World Player of the Year is an association football award presented to the player voted as best in the world by coaches and captains of international teams. It began in 1991 as an award for the best men's player in the world In a voting system based on positional voting, each coach has three votes, worth five points, three points and one point, and the winners are ordered based on total number of points.
European-based Brazilian players have dominated the award, winning 8 out of 18 times, ahead of the second country France, which won it three times. In terms of individual players who have received the award, Brazil leads with five, followed by Italy and Portugal with two each.
The award's youngest winner was Ronaldo, who won at the age of 20 in 1996. He won it again in 1997 and 2002. Both Ronaldo and Ronaldinho won twice in a row. Ronaldo and Zinedine Zidane won the award three times. The oldest winner is Fabio Cannavaro, who was 33 when he won in 2006.
A women's award was added in 2001. The women's award has had fewer individual winners. So far, only five players – one from each of three different countries, plus two Americans – have won the award. Of these women, only 2011 winner Homare Sawa and 2012 winner Abby Wambach have won only one award. Marta has won it five times in a row, Birgit Prinz won three times in a row, and Mia Hamm won twice in a row. The oldest winner is Sawa, who was 33 when she won in 2011. The youngest winner is Marta, who won in 2006 at age 20.
Following criticism from some sections of the media over nominations in previous years, in 2004 FIFA drew up a short list of 35 men and 21 women from which national team managers and, for the first time, team captains and representatives from FIFPro (the worldwide representative organisation for professional players) could vote.
*Player was a member of the club for the second half of the calendar year (The first part of a new season - August to December) **Player was a member of the club for the first half of the calendar year (The second part of a finished season - January to May)
***Player retired halfway through the calendar year so was a member of the club only for the first half of the calendar year (The second part of a finished season - January to May)