FIFA, world soccer’s governing body, released a shortlist of 23 players today up for the Ballon d’Or (Golden Ball), the most prestigious individual award the sport has to offer. Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona looks to win his fifth straight Ballon d’Or while Gareth Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo, Franck Ribery and 19 others look to dethrone the Argentine striker.
The winner will be determined by votes from coaches, team captains and journalists. The list of 23 players will be narrowed down with the winner announced on Jan. 13, 2014 in Zurich, Switzerland. Yaya Toure of Manchester City and Ivory Coast is the only nominee that does not hail from Europe or South America, all 23 nominees plays their club ball in Europe.
Reigning treble winners in Germany, Bayern Munich has six of its players nominated for the Ballon d’Or, more than any other club this year. Franck Ribery of Bayern, who was awarded UEFA’s player of the year last season, is considered the favorite to prevent Messi from winning his fifth Golden Ball.
There was not a single Englishman mentioned on the Ballon d’Or shortlist, but five players from the Premier League, such as Yaya Toure, Edin Hazard, Robin Van Persie, Luis Suarez and Mesut Ozil have been added to the list of names.
Along with the Ballon d’Or award, FIFA will also honor the Woman’s World Player of the Year as well as the Coach of the year on Jan. 13. Reigning Woman’s World Player of the Year Abby Wambach and fellow American Alex Morgan are among 10 women up for the women's Ballon d’Or.
Here are the 2013 Ballon d’Or nominees in alphabetical order with their club and country:
- Gareth Bale: Real Madrid/Wales
- Edinson Cavani: Paris St. Germain/Uruguay
- Radamel Falcao: Monaco/Colombia
- Eden Hazard: Chelsea/Belgium
- Zlatan Ibrahimovic: Paris St. Germain/Sweden
- Andres Iniesta: Barcelona/Spain
- Philipp Lahm: Bayern Munich/Germany
- Robert Lewandowski: Borussia Dortmund/Poland
- Lionel Messi: Barcelona/Argentina
- Thomas Muller: Bayern Munich/Germany
- Manuel Neuer: Bayern Munich/Germany
- Neymar: Barcelona/Brazil
- Mesut Ozil: Arsenal/Germany
- Andrea Pirlo: Juventus/Italy
- Franck Ribery: Bayern Munich/France
- Arjen Robben: Bayern Munich/Holland
- Cristiano Ronaldo: Real Madrid/Portugal
- Bastian Schweinsteiger: Bayern Munich/Germany
- Luis Suarez: Liverpool/Uruguay
- Thiago Silva: Paris St. Germain/Brazil
- Yaya Toure: Manchester City/Ivory Coast
- Robin van Persie: Manchester United/Holland
- Xavi: Barcelona/Spain