Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi will form part of a panel that will vote on a new award added to the Ballon d’Or family this year: the Trophee Kopa.
The announcement for the new award came on Monday prior to the FIFA Best awards, where Real Madrid’s Luka Modric was awarded best male player.
Alongside the new under-21 award there will be a Ballon d’Or equivalent for female players.
This prize has been welcomed by France international Wendy Renard, who plays for Lyon and is a Champions League winner.
“The birth of the Ballon d’Or Feminin is a step further for the evolution of our sport,” she told France Football. “It’s a step forward. Women’s football is evolving and inequality is shrinking, even if there is still room for improvement.”
Meanwhile, Marta, one of the most recognisable female players of the last decade, added: “I’ve always wanted to see a woman win this prestigious award. It’s a step forward towards quality to see such a prize.”
What is the Trophee Kopa?
Named after Raymond Kopa, the legendary Reims, Angers, Real Madrid and France striker, who won the inaugural Ballon d’Or in 1958, the award will go to the game’s outstanding young player aged under 21.
Ronaldo and Messi form part of the 33-man panel which includes all the surviving Ballon d’Or winners, from Luis Suarez, the oldest winner still alive, to the Juventus and Barcelona stars, who have monopolised the individual award for a decade.
Who will select the female Ballon d’Or award?
It will be a panel of journalists specialising in women’s football around the world who will vote on the winner, using the same system that is in place for the men’s game.
A longlist of 30 players will be available for the award on October 8, the same day as the male Ballon d’Or candidates are made known.
Marta, who was named the FIFA women’s player of the year for the sixth time on Monday, is favourite to secure the female Ballon d'Or award. Other frontrunner's include Lyon pair Ada Hegerberg and Dzsenifer Marozsan.
When will the awards be presented?
The Kopa Trophy will be presented on December 3, along with the Ballon d’Or awards for both male and female players.
The frontrunners for this year’s Ballon d’Or includes Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and FIFA’s 2018 best male player Luka Modric. After impressive performances at the World Cup and helping France win the title Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann are also in contention for the award.