New in 2018: Ballon d'Or will be presented to top female player

For the first time, a Ballon d'Or will be awarded to the best female player of the year.

France Football has awarded the famous trophy to best male player since 1956 when Stanley Matthews was the first recipient. The award was first given to the best European player, then the best player playing in Europe. In 2010, France Football merged the award with FIFA's world player of the year award and it became known as the FIFA Ballon d'Or. The organizations went their separate ways in 2016.

Unlike the FIFA awards whose winners were announced on Monday, only journalists -- one per country -- take part in the voting for the Ballon d'Or. They will select from a shortlist of 15 female nominees.

FIFA has rebranded its awards -- the Best Player awards -- and adjusted the criteria to take into account the season -- fall to spring -- used by most countries in Europe. The Ballon d'Or is based on play during the calendar year.

This year's award ceremony will take place in Paris on Dec. 3 and comes ahead of the 2019 Women's World Cup in France. It will also follow criticism of the FIFA treatment of the female award. Marta won the 2018 award even though she only scored two goals for the Orlando Pride in 2018 during the period under consideration for this year's award.

"Women's soccer is a booming discipline that deserves the same respect as men's soccer," said France Football editor in chief Pascal Ferre. "It's coming to maturity and growing bigger. More than 760 million TV viewers watched games at the last women's World Cup in 2015 -- this did not happen by chance."

France Football is also introducing the Kopa Trophy to be awarded to the best under-21 male in the world. The award's voting panel will consist of former Ballon d'Or winners.

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