Ballon d'Or finalists: Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Iniesta

Published November 29, 2012


Argentine striker Lionel Messi, Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo and Spaniard Andres Iniesta are the finalists for the 2012 Ballon d'Or as the world's best soccer player, FIFA and France Football announced here Thursday.

Messi has won the award three years running and Ronaldo took the prize in 2008. First-time finalist Iniesta was the MVP of the 2012 European Championship.

Iniesta and Messi are teammates at FC Barcelona, while Ronaldo plays for Real Madrid.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter unveiled the nominations for the Ballon d'Or and other awards in Sao Paulo, site of Saturday's draw for the Confederations Cup.

"We're not at the level of the Oscars, but we're not very far from that ceremony either," Blatter said.

Nominated for Coach of the Year are Vicente Del Bosque of the Spanish national squad, Pep Guardiola - late of Barcelona - and Jose Mourinho, manager of Real Madrid.

Brazil's Marta and two members of the U.S. team, Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan, will compete for the title of Women's Player of the Year. The contenders for Coach of the Year in women's soccer are Bruno Bini of France, Norio Sasaki of Japan and Sweden's Pia Sundhage.

The Puskas trophy for goal of the year will go to Colombian Radamel Falcao Garcia, Brazil's Neymar or Slovak Miroslav Stoch.

The names of all the winners will be revealed at a Jan. 7 gala in Switzerland. EFE