Barcelona’s Lionel Messi and Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo are among 23 male players nominated for soccer’s player of the year by the sport’s governing body.
Messi won the award last year, besting Ronaldo and his Barcelona teammate Xavi Hernandez, who is nominated again this year, according to an e-mailed statement from FIFA, the sport’s governing body. Messi joined European soccer’s top official, Michel Platini, as the only man to win three years in a row.
Messi’s former coach at Barcelona and last year’s manager of the year, Pep Guardiola, is again among the nominees for the award as is Chelsea’s Roberto Di Matteo, who led the London team to the Champions League title.
Women’s title holder Homare Sawa of Japan, Brazil’s Marta and Carli Lloyd of the U.S. are among the women’s nominees.
The Ballon d’Or nominees will be reduced to three by Nov. 29, with the winner named Jan. 7, when coach of the year will be awarded as well.
Nominees for Ballon d’Or Sergio Aguero (Argentina) Xabi Alonso (Spain) Mario Balotelli (Italy) Karim Benzema (France) Gianluigi Buffon (Italy) Sergio Busquets (Spain) Iker Casillas (Spain) Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal) Didier Drogba (Côte d’Ivoire) Radamel Falcao (Colombia) Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden) Andres Iniesta (Spain) Lionel Messi (Argentina) Manuel Neuer (Germany) Neymar (Brazil) Mesut Ozil (Germany) Gerard Pique (Spain) Andrea Pirlo (Italy) Sergio Ramos (Spain) Wayne Rooney (England) Yaya Toure (Côte d’Ivoire) Robin van Persie (Netherlands) Xavi (Spain) Nominees for Coach of the Year: Vicente del Bosque (Spain/Spain national team) Roberto Di Matteo (Italy/Chelsea FC) Alex Ferguson (Scotland/Manchester United FC) Pep Guardiola (Spain/FC Barcelona former coach) Jupp Heynckes (Germany/FC Bayern Munich) Juergen Klopp (Germany/Borussia Dortmund) Joachim Loew (Germany/Germany national team) Roberto Mancini (Italy/Manchester City FC) Jose Mourinho (Portugal/Real Madrid CF) Cesare Prandelli (Italy/Italy national team)