Soccer stars Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar and six members of the German squad that won this summer’s World Cup are among the 23 players named on the short list for the FIFA Ballon d'Or award, given to the world’s best player, FIFA announced Tuesday.
Germany’s Mario Goetze was named to the short list, along with teammates Toni Kroos, Philipp Lahm, Thomas Mueller, Manuel Neuer and Bastian Schweinsteiger.
The three finalists with the most votes for each award will be announced Dec. 1 and the winners will be revealed Jan. 12.
One player missing from the list is Barcelona’s Luis Suarez, who led the Premier League with 31 goals while playing for Liverpool last season, but he was banned for four months for biting Italy's Giorgio Chiellini during the World Cup. His ban ended last weekend when he played in Barcelona’s 3-1 loss to Real Madrid.
In 2010, the Ballon d'Or and the men's FIFA World Player of the Year were merged. Messi won the award the first three years and Ronaldo took home the trophy last year.
The FIFA Ballon d'Or nominees:
Gareth Bale (Wales), Karim Benzema (France), Diego Costa (Spain), Thibaut Courtois (Belgium), Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal), Angel Di Maria (Argentina), Mario Goetze (Germany), Eden Hazard (Belgium), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden), Andres Iniesta (Spain), Toni Kroos (Germany), Philipp Lahm (Germany), Javier Mascherano (Argentina), Lionel Messi (Argentina), Thomas Mueller (Germany), Manuel Neuer (Germany), Neymar (Brazil), Paul Pogba (France), Sergio Ramos (Spain), Arjen Robben (Netherlands), James Rodriguez (Colombia), Bastian Schweinsteiger (Germany), Yaya Toure (Côte d’Ivoire).
- Scooby Axson