Lionel Messi is on course for
a record-equalling third consecutive Ballon d'Or, football's
highest individual award, after the Argentine forward was named
on a three-man shortlist on Monday.
Messi's Barcelona team-mate Xavi and Real Madrid's Cristiano
Ronaldo were also shortlisted with clubs from Spain's La Liga
providing the top three for the third year in a row.
Messi, who won the Ballon d'Or in 2009 and 2010, will be the
favourite to complete a hat-trick of titles after his
man-of-the-match performance helped the Spanish side beat
Manchester United in the Champions League final in May.
Portuguese forward Ronaldo won the Ballon d'Or in 2008 while
Xavi has finished third in the last two editions.
Former France international and current UEFA President
Michel Platini won the Ballon d'Or for three consecutive years
Last year, the FIFA Player of the Year and the Ballon d'Or
awards merged into the FIFA Ballon d'Or and votes now come from
the coaches and captains of international teams as well as from
The winner will be announced on Jan. 9 in Zurich with 1987
Ballon d'Or winner Ruud Gullit of Netherlands presiding over the
FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke said the ceremony is
likely to be the last in Switzerland for a while.
"We will take the Ballon d'Or out of Zurich. It could be
Paris, Barcelona, Madrid or other European cities, but it will
stay in Europe," he told reporters at the headquarters of France
Football magazine, who co-organise the event.
Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, Barcelona's Pep
Guardiola and Real Madrid's Jose Mourinho were shortlisted for
the Coach of the Year award.
Brazil's Marta will be looking for a sixth consecutive
Women's Player of the Year award but faces competition from
Japan's Homare Sawa and American Abby Wambach.
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