The world's national trainers have voted for the eighth time, and the big question to be answered is: Will Ronaldo be chosen as FIFA World Footballer of the Year for the third time in succession? The answer will be made known at the Gala in Barcelona on 1 February 1999.
The idea of selecting a World Footballer of the Year dates back to 1991 when FIFA, working together with adidas and European Sports Magazines (ESM), first carried out the poll. In the meantime it has advanced to the status of a highly prestigious event. The validity of the process can hardly be questioned, since the voting body could not be better qualified for the task - they are the national coaches of the 203 FIFA member countries. The number of votes cast has risen steadily since 1991, and a new record is expected for this year too.
First time in Barcelona
The central question this time is: will he or won't he? Ronaldo, overwhelming winner for the last two years, could break his own record of two successive wins with a third title. As the choice for 1994 showed, the three most successful players in the World Cup will be strong contenders.
Following this year's Gala in Disneyland, Paris, FIFA will next be the guests of the Catalan city of Barcelona on 1 February 1999. The local host this time for the Gala in the "Teatro Nacional de Cataluna" will be ESM member Don Balon, a football magazine celebrating its 25th anniversary at the same time. Don Balon will also take advantage of the occasion to present five national prizes covering the period of its existence.
In addition to the main event of honouring the three best players of the year, the other traditional awards will be presented. The special prizes connected to the World Cup will be awarded while the International Hall of Fame, which made its first nominations in Paris this year, will announce the names of further personalities who will be invited to join the elite circle.
With a number of stars being present, and the attention of the world's press focused on the event, an entertaining gala evening is guaranteed.