ZURICH (AP) – Cristiano Ronaldo was left off the the 14-player shortlist for the annual Best FIFA Men’s Player award for the first time, with Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappé among those selected.
Ronaldo, who was released by Manchester United won the FIFA award the first two times it was handed out – in 2016 and 2017 – and was among the three finalists the following three years. This was the first time he was not even selected as a contender by a FIFA-appointed expert panel.
The award was rebranded in 2016 following a six-year period where the former FIFA World Player of the Year Award had merged with the annual Ballon d’Or.
Ronaldo finished seventh in the voting last year, when Robert Lewandowski won for the second time in a row ahead of Messi and Mohamed Salah. The 37-year-old Portuguese star joined Saudi Arabian club Al Nassr last month, seemingly marking the end of his European club career.
Aside from Messi, the only member of Argentina’s World Cup-winning team to make the list of nominees is forward Julián Álvarez.
Lewandowski is also on the list, which includes just four players who did not play at the World Cup.
Karim Benzema, the 2022 Ballon d’Or winner, and Sadio Mané were injured ahead of the tournament in Qatar, while Erling Haaland and Salah were not there because their countries, Norway and Egypt, respectively, did not qualify.
The other players nominated are Jude Bellingham, Kevin De Bruyne, Achraf Hakimi, Luka Modrić, Neymar and Vinícius Junior.
Voting is done by national team captains and coaches worldwide along with selected journalists, and there is an online vote by fans which runs through February 3.
The winners are announced at a February 27 ceremony in Paris.