European Footballer of the Year?
French magazine France Football have been awarding their coveted Ballon d'Or (Golden Ball) ever since 1956. A balot held under football journalists is used to decide the winning player.
Originally the trophy was available only to European players, with the winner of the Ballon d'Or widely recognised as being the European Footballer of the Year. Non-European players that did feature in the results, even winning the trophy on a number of occasions, only did so because they had come to be in possession of a passport from a UEFA member country.
From 1995 onward those non-European footballers that played in a league of one of the UEFA member countries were also eligible, and since 2007 all restrictions have been dropped.
As a consequence, the Ballon d'Or can no longer be seen as an election of a European Footballer of the Year.
That last statement is underlined by the fact that the football journalists eligible to vote are now also located all over the World. To prevent journalist voting for obscure local heroes, votes can now only be cast for players on a list of nominees compiled by France Football.