Ivorian striker Didier Drogba, Ghanian Asamoah Gyan and Cameroon star Samuel Eto’o are the only African players who made it to the list of players nominated for the 2010 FIFA Ballon d’Or World Player of the Year award announced on Tuesday.
Seven players from Spain’s World Cup-winning team, including Barcelona trio Andres Iniesta, David Villa and Xavi Hernandez, were nominated for the award.
The 23-man list also includes three players who starred both at the World Cup and with their club last season: Golden Ball winner Diego Forlan of Uruguay and Europa League winner Atletico Madrid; Wesley Sneijder of runner-up the Netherlands and European champion Inter Milan; and Thomas Mueller of Germany and Bayern Munich, who was top scorer and voted best young player in South Africa.
The past two winners—Lionel Messi of Argentina and Barcelona, and Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal and Real Madrid—were nominated for the 2010 award despite disappointing World Cup campaigns.
2007 winner Kaka was left off the list, which includes his Brazil teammates Daniel Alves of Barcelona, and Inter Milan duo Julio Cesar and Maicon.
Chelsea’s Ivory Coast forward Didier Drogba and Arsenal’s Spanish midfielder Cesc Fabregas are among the three English Premier League players nominated.
The award, formerly known as the FIFA World Player of the Year, it will be given jointly, for the first time in history, by both FIFA and France Football magazine, which first presented the original Ballon d’Or in 1956.
Votes will be cast by captains and head coaches of men’s and women’s national teams as well as invited journalists.
A top-three shortlist will be announced Dec. 6, and the winner will be named at a ceremony in Zurich on Jan. 10.
Among the 10 candidates for the women’s world player award are Brazil’s Marta and Germany’s Birgit Prinz, who have, combined, won the past seven titles.
Awards for the best men’s and women’s coach will be handed out for the first time.
Spain’s Vicente del Bosque is competing for the men’s honor with nine rivals, including Oscar Tabarez of World Cup semifinalist Uruguay and Jose Mourinho, who won the Champions League with Inter Milan before joining Real Madrid.
The women’s list contains Maren Meinert, who led Germany to the Women’s Under-20 World Cup title in July, and Albertin Montoya of FC Gold Pride, champion of the United States’ Women’s Professional Soccer league.
At the January gala, FIFA will also announce a World XI team in conjunction with the FIFPro group of players’ unions, the Puskas Award for most beautiful goal of the year, a presidential award and a prize for fair play.
FIFA Ballon d’Or men’s nominations: Xabi Alonso (Spain), Daniel Alves (Brazil), Iker Casillas (Spain), Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal), Didier Drogba (Ivory Coast), Samuel Eto’o (Cameroon), Cesc Fabregas (Spain), Diego Forlan (Uruguay), Asamoah Gyan (Ghana), Andres Iniesta (Spain), Julio Cesar (Brazil), Miroslav Klose (Germany), Philipp Lahm (Germany), Maicon (Brazil), Lionel Messi (Argentina), Thomas Muller (Germany), Mesut Oezil (Germany), Carles Puyol (Spain), Arjen Robben (Netherlands), Bastian Schweinsteiger (Germany), Wesley Sneijder (Netherlands), David Villa (Spain) and Xavi (Spain(