Messi, Xavi and Ronaldo candidates for Balon D'Or

Updated: 2011-12-05 22:39


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PARIS - Cristiano Ronaldo, Messi and Xavi are in the three-contender shortlist for the 2011 FIFA Ballon d'Or Award, FIFA announced Monday at a press conference held at the headquarters of France Football magazine in Paris.

The Argentina superstar Messi won the award last year when the Ballon d'Or prize of France Football magazine and World Player of the Year award of FIFA were combined together for the first time. And Messi also won both awards in 2008, while his arch rival Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal swept the awards in 2008.

Messi's club team-member, Spanish playmaker Xavi finished third in last year's award.

Messi scored a total of 53 goals in the season, including one in the 3-1 Champions League triumph against Manchester United.

Xavi is considered to be the architect of the Barcelona side, with the 31 year-old credited with being the player whose passing, style and vision has helped mark a generation of footballers for both Barcelona and the Spanish national side.

Ronaldo meanwhile scored the goal that helped Real Madrid defeat Barcelona in the Copa del Rey, but despite finishing as top scorer in the Primera Liga with 40 goals, he is handicapped by the fact that his side were beaten by Barcelona in both Spain's domestic league and also in the Champions League after the Catalans knocked Real Madrid out of the semifinal of the competition.

Brazil's Marta, Japan's Homare Sawa and Abby Wambach of the United States are among the contenders for the women's player award.

The candidates for the FIFA World Coach of the Year for both Men's and Women's Football are also unveiled, with Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson (Scotland), Barca's Josep Guardiola (Spain) and Real Madrid's Jose Mourinho (Portugal) to compete for the men's coach award while Bruno Bini (France), Norio Sasaki (Japan) and Pia Sundhage (Sweden) for the women's coach award.

According to FIFA, all these nominees were confirmed after a poll in which the captains and head coaches of the men's and women's national teams as well as international media representatives selected by France Football voted for candidates.

All the awards will be presented at the FIFA Ballon d'Or gala, which will be held at the Kongresshaus in Zurich on January 9, 2012.