The International Federation of Association Football awards the 'best player of the year' with the FIFA Ballon d'Or.
Previously two separate awards, the FIFA player of the year award and the Ballon d'Or, these merged in 2010 to form the FIFA Ballon d'Or.
The original Ballon d'Or, which translates as 'the Golden Ball', was an association football award presented to the European player to have shown the best performance in the previous year. A change of rules in 1995 extended the eligibility for the award to non-European players if they were enlisted with a European club. In 2007 all professional players, no matter where they come from or who they play for, could be nominated.
Coaches, captains and journalists cast their votes each year for their favourite players. Players are judged not only on their technical skills but also their sociability and disposition.
The 2012 Nominations for the Ballon d'Or are Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Xavi Hernandez. The Gala is presented by the winner of the 1987 Ballon d'Or, Ruud Gullit.
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