FIFA & France Football combine awards

JOHANNESBURG - FIFA unveiled on Monday a deal with France Football to present a new global football award that combines the "Ballon d'Or" or Golden Ball prize with the World Player of the Year trophy.

The first "FIFA Ballon d'Or" prize will be awarded in Switzerland on January 10 next year, officials said at a news conference on the sidelines of the World Cup.

"I am a very happy president today," enthused FIFA president Sepp Blatter, signing the agreement with Marie-Odile Amaury, president of the group that owns the France Football publication which had been making the annual Ballon d'Or award.

Coaches and captains of national teams, as well as media, will vote for the new award.

Argentina's Lionel Messi is this year's FIFA World Player of the Year, while German's Lothar Matthaeus won the first one in 1991.

Messi also took the 2009 Ballon d'Or, which stretches back to 1956 which, under the title of European Football of the Year, was won by England's Stanley Matthews.

Another double winner, Liberia's George Weah, was present for Monday's announcement. His tips for the winner in January were Netherlands' Arjen Robben or Spain's David Villa.

"They've not just done well in the World Cup, but have been performing well for their teams too," he said.

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