The FIFA Ballon d'Or (French pronunciation: [balɔ̃ dɔʁ], "Golden Ball") is an annual association football award given to the world's best male player by the sport's governing body, FIFA, and the French publication France Football since 2010. It is awarded based on votes from international media representatives and national team coaches and captains, who select the player they deem to have performed the best in the previous calendar year. A fusion between the former Ballon d'Or and the men's FIFA World Player of the Year award, the FIFA Ballon d'Or is considered the most prestigious individual award in world football.
Prior to 2010, the leading individual awards in association football were the Ballon d'Or and the FIFA World Player of the Year award. The original Ballon d'Or, also known as the European Footballer of the Year award, had been awarded by the French publication France Football since 1956. European sports journalists invited by France Football selected the recipients from among European or Europe-based players. The FIFA World Player of the Year award, presented by the governing body FIFA from 1991, was international in scope. Winners were chosen by the national team coaches and captains under FIFA's jurisdiction.
From 2005, the winners of the Ballon d'Or and FIFA World Player of the Year award were identical each year. Following the introduction of a global Ballon d'Or format in 2007, France Football and FIFA opted to merge the two awards. The creation of the FIFA Ballon d'Or was subsequently announced during the FIFA World Cup held in South Africa in 2010. The inaugural award was presented that same year to the Argentine Lionel Messi. For historical purposes, both organisations regard the FIFA Ballon d'Or as a continuation of their respective former awards. The FIFA World Player of the Year award continues as a women's-only award.
The winner of the FIFA Ballon d'Or is chosen by international media representatives and national team coaches and captains. In a voting system based on positional voting, each voter is allotted three votes, worth five points, three points and one point, and the three finalists are ordered based on total number of points. Voters are provided with a shortlist from which they can select the three players they deem to have performed the best in the previous calendar year.