FIFA has released the 23-man shortlist of contenders for this year’s Ballon d’Or award.
In what will come as a surprise to some fans of the sport, the world organization has omitted former Liverpool and Uruguay international striker Luis Suarez from the list of nominees for World Player of the Year.
The 27-year-old scored 31 goals for Liverpool last season while being named PFA Player of the Year and Barclays Premier League Player of the Season for the 2013-14 campaign. But his season ended in controversy after he bit Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini while playing for Uruguay at the World Cup in Brazil.
Suarez was handed a four-month man by FIFA as a consequence, was then sold to Barcelona, fought to have his suspension reduce – only to see the decision upheld – before he was able to make his La Liga debut this past weekend against Real Madrid.
Under FIFA rules, Suarez was not eligible for the shortlist due to his suspension. The Uruguayan surely would have been a strong contender for the award if the incident during the World Cup had never taken place.
The other story coming from today’s announcement from FIFA is that Welsh forward Gareth Bale will be the lone British player on the shortlist for World Player of the Year.
Bale scored 22 goals for Real Madrid last season, as the Spanish giants won the Copa del Rey and the Champions League title.
Other Ballon d’Or news of note is the Premier League has five current players nominated for the award – although three of the individuals selected only recently joined their clubs over the summer: Thibaut Courtois (Chelsea/formerly Atletico Madrid), Diego Costa (Chelsea/formerly Atletico Madrid), Angel di Maria (Manchester United/formerly Real Madrid), Eden Hazard (Chelsea) and Yaya Toure (Manchester City).
Real Madrid and Bayern Munich players dominate the list, with each club supplying six players.
The 23-man shortlist will be reduced to three in December before the winners are announced on January 12th 2015 in Zurich.
Here are the Ballon d’Or award nominees for Player of the Year:
Gareth Bale (Real Madrid), Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Diego Costa (Chelsea/Atletico Madrid), Thibaut Courtois (Chelsea/Atletico Madrid), Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Angel di Maria (Manchester United/Real Madrid), Mario Gotze (Bayern Munich), Eden Hazard (Chelsea), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (PSG), Andres Iniesta (Barcelona), Toni Kroos (Real Madrid/Bayern Munich), Philipp Lahm (Bayern Munich), Javier Mascherano (Barcelona), Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Thomas Muller (Bayern Munich), Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich), Neymar (Barcelona), Paul Pogba (Juventus), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Arjen Robben (Bayern Munich), James Rodriguez (Real Madrid/AS Monaco), Bastian Schweinsteiger (Bayern Munich), Yaya Toure (Manchester City).
Coach of the year shortlist:
Carlo Ancelotti (Real Madrid), Antonio Conte (Italy national team/Juventus), Pep Guardiola (Bayern Munich), Jurgen Klinsmann (USA national team), Joachim Low (Germany national team), Jose Mourinho (Chelsea), Manuel Pellegrini (Manchester City), Alejandro Sabella (Argentina national team), Diego Simeone (Atletico Madrid), Louis van Gaal (Manchester United/Holland national team).
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