The first-ever FIFA Ballon d'Or awards will be an all FC Barcelona affair with Argentine Lionel Messi facing Spanish club mates Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez. These three players were the top three pick from the original list of 23 players. Meanwhile Fatmire Bajramaj (Germany), Marta (Brazil) and Birgit Prinz (Germany) will contest the women’s award.
This was announced today at a press conference held at the headquarters of the sports daily L'Equipe in Paris. And it was attended by FIFA Secretary General Jérôme Valcke, France Football CEO François Morinière plus former French internationals Jean-Pierre Papin and Christian Karembeu.
The Ballon d'Or award was earlier on handed our by the French magazine, while FIFA had their own World Player of the Year award. Now these two have been merged into one and the first-ever FIFA Ballon d'Or awards will be handed out on January 10, 2011 at the Kongresshaus in Zurich.
The candidates for the newly created FIFA World Coach of the Year for Men's Football award and the FIFA World Coach of the Year for Women's Football award were also announced. The contenders are the following: Vicente del Bosque (Spain/Spanish national team), Pep Guardiola (Spain/FC Barcelona) and José Mourinho (Portugal/FC Internazionale & Real Madrid CF) in the men's category, while Maren Meinert (Germany/German U-20 national team) Silvia Neid (Germany/German national team) and Pia Sundhage (Sweden/USA national team) have been named in the women's category.
All of 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 magazine France Football voted for candidates. The votes from each of the three groups counted for one-third to obtain the final result.
Also the FIFA FIFPro World XI and the FIFA Puskás Award for the most beautiful goal of the year will also be announced for the second year running. The online vote for fans on FIFA.com for the FIFA Puskás Award has now reached the 1 million vote landmark, with one week to go until the poll closes at noon CET on 13 December. The FIFA Presidential Award and the FIFA Fair Play Award will also be presented during the gala.