Zurich, Switzerland – Reigning two-time world player of the year Lionel Messi and former winner Cristiano Ronaldo, who has been second the last two years, are among the 23 finalists announced Tuesday for the 2011 FIFA Ballon d'Or.
Messi won the first FIFA Ballon d'Or last year, the first time the two player of the year awards were combined, and also claimed world player of the year in 2009. The Argentina and Barcelona forward finished second in 2007 and 2008.
Ronaldo won world player of the year in 2008, was runner-up to Messi in 2009, but did not make the final three last year. He also finished third in 2007.
Messi and Ronaldo are the favorites to claim the award again this season.
The short list will be dwindled down to three finalists, announced Dec. 5. The winner will be revealed Jan. 9, when the award for coach of the year will also be announced.
Following is the short list for the FIFA Ballon d���Or:
Eric Abidal (France), Sergio Aguero (Argentina), Karim Benzema (France), Iker Casillas (Spain), Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal), Dani Alves (Brazil), Samuel Eto'o (Cameroon), Cesc Fabregas (Spain), Diego Forlan (Uruguay), Andres Iniesta (Spain), Lionel Messi (Argentina), Thomas Muller (Germany), Nani (Portugal), Neymar (Brazil), Mesut Ozil (Germany), Gerard Pique (Spain), Wayne Rooney (England), Bastian Schweinsteiger (Germany), Wesley Sneijder (Netherlands), Luis Suarez (Uruguay), David Villa (Spain), Xabi Alonso (Spain), Xavi (Spain).
Following is the short list for FIFA World Coach of the Year:
Vicente Del Bosque (Spain), Sir Alex Ferguson (Manchester United), Rudi Garcia (Lille), Pep Guardiola (Barcelona), Jurgen Klopp (Borussia Dortmund), Joachim Loew (Germany), Jose Mourinho (Real Madrid), Oscar Tabarez (Uruguay), Andre Villas-Boas (FC Porto, Chelsea FC), Arsene Wenger (Arsenal).