Stunning individual class meets extra-special vision and ability on 10 January 2011 at the Zurich Kongresshaus, when the inaugural FIFA Ballon d’Or Gala will honouring the best male and female players of the last 12 months. The names of the final nominees have now been revealed, identifying the three male and three female players who remain in contention for the coveted awards.
Argentina ace Lionel Messi, current holder of the Ballon d’Or, and Spanish FIFA World Cup™ winners Xavi and Andres Iniesta are the male contenders for the most prestigious individual honour in world football. From the women’s game, the shortlist features current holder Marta of Brazil, and German FIFA Women’s World Cup-winning duo Birgit Prinz and Fatmire Bajramaj. Both groups represent the pinnacle of their respective disciplines, and the best of the best will be selected from their number.
All six nominees were selected in a poll of men’s and women’s national team captains and head coaches, and a panel of international media representatives. The accolade for the best player in the world will be presented for the first time as the FIFA Ballon d'Or, following the amalgamation of the FIFA World Player of the Year and the France Football Ballon d'Or awards.
Throughout 2010, Barcelona and Argentina superstar Messi has maintained the breathtaking form which won him last year’s World Player award. His Barça team-mates Xavi and Iniesta starred for Spain as the Iberians made history with a maiden FIFA World Cup triumph at the 2010 edition in South Africa. Xavi was a masterful presence as he orchestrated the Roja midfield, while Iniesta provided the silky skills and inspiration in attack, himself scoring the only goal of the Final in Johannesburg to beat the Netherlands.
"I hope a Spanish player wins it, and if not, I hope it goes to my friend Leo Messi. He’s indisputably the best player in the world, and he’s going to win the Ballon d’Or several more times. But in World Cup years the tournament is a big factor, and Andres [Iniesta] and I won it, while La Albiceleste didn’t hit the heights expected of them," Xavi exclusively told FIFA.com.
In the women’s category, Brazilian striker Marta is still only 24 but stands a good chance of being named the world’s best player for the fifth time in a row. After finishing as a runner-up at the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2007, her personal challenge now is to land the world crown at the 2011 finals in Germany. As so often in the past, she faces competition on both fronts from prolific 33-year-old striker Prinz, the World Player of the Year on three previous occasions. The third contender is 22-year-old wide player Fatmire Bajramaj, a member of the Turbine Potsdam side which claimed the inaugural UEFA Women’s Champions League in 2010.
All six stars of the footballing world would surely deserve to win the ultimate individual accolade, but only two can do so. FIFA.com wants your opinions on the following question:
Who is your favourite to win the FIFA Ballon d'Or for 2010?
Opinions expressed in this forum will not influence the vote among national team coaches and captains and the media panel, but it’s your chance to discuss a fascinating topic with fans from all over the world. So please tell us what you think! Click 'Add your comment' and let everyone know your opinion, remembering to keep your posts clean, respectful, on-topic and in English.