KEIR RADNEDGE in SAO PAULO: Leo Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo – both as predicted – and Andres Iniesta comprise the three-man shortlist for the World Player of the prize to be presented in Zurich at the annual FIFA Gala on January 7. The trio is the same as last year.

The FIFA award swallowed up the original European Footballer of the Year prize which was launched by the Paris magazine France Football in 1956. The first winner was Stanley Matthews. Later the award was expanded to reach beyond Europe, lost its individuality and ‘partnered’ with FIFA – as the publishers diplomatically put it – in 2010.

Messi is holder and favourite while Barcelona team-mate Iniesta is the current UEFA European Top Player. Ronaldo looks like being left ‘sad’ again.

The Women’s World Player shortlist comprises Brazil’s five-times winner Marta as well as United States duo Alex Morgan and Abby Wambach.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter hailed a remarkable year for women’s football with the success of the Olympic tournament at London 2012 and the staging of a FIFA women’s championship in an Islamic country for the first time – the World U-17s in Azerbaijan.

Other awards nominees:

Women’s World Football Coach: Bruno Bini (France), Norio Sasaki (Japan) and Pia Sundhage (US Olympic-winning coach)

Puskas Award for Goal of the Year: Radamel Falcao (Atletico de Madrid v America Cali), Neymar (Santos v Internacional) and Miroslav Stoch (Fenerbahce v Genclerbirligi) — Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s acrobatic goal for Sweden against England earlier this month came after the selection deadline.

FIFPro World XI forwards: Leo Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Neymar, Sergio Aguero, Mario Balotelli, Karim Benzema, Edinson Cavani, Didier Dogba, Samuel Eto’o, Radamel Falcao, Mario Gomez, Robin Van Persie, Wayne Rooney, Luis Suarez

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