MADRID, January 12 – UEFA will create the equivalent of the Ballon d’Or award for European players which it will start giving out next season, the president of the European football governing body, Michel Platini, said in an interview published Wednesday."UEFA will give a special prize to the best player in Europe, following the spirit of the former Ballon d’Or given by France Football which has now merged with the FIFA prize for best world player," he told Spanish sports daily Mundo Deportivo.
The prize will be awarded in August at an annual ceremony in Monoco on the same day as the draw to select the fixtures for the Champions League, the newspaper said.
The prize jury will be made up of representatives from all the football federations that make up UEFA, sports journalists and coaches, it added.
The Ballon d’Or, set up in 1956 by French sports magazine France Football, is decided by a poll of world football journalists.
Originally only European players at European clubs were eligible but in 1995 a change in the rules allowed non-European players to be eligible for the award if they played for a European club.
For 2010 the Ballon d’Or was merged with FIFA’s Player of the Year prize. The newly-created FIFA Ballon D’Or was awarded on Monday to Barcelona’s Argentine international Lionel Messi.
Messi, the winner of the Ballon d’Or in the previous year, held off his Barcelona team mates Andres Iniesta and Xavi, second and third respectively, sparking disappointment in Spain but Platini said the player deserved it.
"He is the best without any debate. But I would have prefered that it go to Xavi or Iniesta," said Platini, a former France captain who won the Ballon d’Or three times.