Will there soon be a new name – or even names – to add to the FIFA World Player of the Year hall of fame? The votes have now been cast and just three players are left in the running for both the men’s and women’s awards. Seasoned award-winners such as Mia Hamm (USA), Birgit Prinz (Germany) and Thierry Henry France) have this year been joined by a few new faces: Marta (Brazil), fresh from her exploits at the FIFA U-19 Women’s World Championship Thailand 2004, as well as Ronaldinho (Brazil) and Andriy Shevchenko (Ukraine), the latter two players currently starring in European club football with Barcelona and AC Milan respectively.
The final results of each poll will remain a closely guarded secret until the FIFA World Player Gala 2004 on 20 December, an event that will mark the culmination of 12 months celebrating the Centennial of world football’s governing body. To add extra shine to an event that is by its very definition unique, and to depict the pure drama of a football match, FIFA has decided to hold this year’s ceremony in the refined surroundings of the Zurich Opera House.
Among all the awards being presented at the Gala event, particular attention will be paid to the FIFA Presidential Award and the FIFA Fair Play Award. Last year, the Iraqi football community and Celtic (Scotland) were the winners of these honours.
Two brand new awards will also be presented at this year’s event – to the FIFA Futsal World Player 2004 and the FIFA Interactive World Player 2004. The FIFA Futsal World Championship Chinese Taipei 2004 is currently underway and will draw to a close on 5 December. On the eve of the Gala, eight players – six of whom have already qualified – will compete in the final of the inaugural FIFA Interactive World Cup at FIFA headquarters in Zurich.
Last but not least, the final men’s FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking for 2004 will be unveiled at 10.00h CET on 20 December. Although there will not be any official World Ranking awards at the Gala, it will reveal the top team and the best mover of the year 2004.