Ronaldo left off FIFA award list headed by Messi, Mbappé

Argentina's Lionel Messi goes for the ball next to France's Kylian Mbappe during the World Cup final soccer match between Argentina and France at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar, Sunday, Dec.18, 2022. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)
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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 and benched by Portugal during the World Cup, 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.

Ballon d’Or winner Alexia Putellas is among 14 nominees for the Best FIFA Women’s Player prize. The list also includes Beth Mead, Keira Walsh and Leah Williamson from European champion England. Putella, the Spain playmaker, missed the tournament in England because of an injury.

Alex Morgan is the only player nominated from the United States team which will defend its World Cup title this year.

Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni is among five nominees for the men’s coaching award, a list that also includes Walid Regragui after Morocco became the first team from Africa to reach the World Cup semifinals.

The other coaches nominated are Real Madrid’s Carlo Ancelotti, France’s Didier Deschamps and Manchester City’s Pep Guardiola.

England coach Sarina Wiegman, who is from the Netherlands, is among six nominees for the coaching award in women’s soccer.

The 11 goals competing for the Puskas Award include two scored at the World Cup – Mbappé’s volleyed second goal against Argentina in the final and Richarlison’s bicycle kick for Brazil against Serbia.

Supporters from Argentina and Japan are among three nominees for the fan award.

FIFA cited Argentina fans’ fervor in Qatar and the passion shown when welcoming the winning team at home, and lauded Japanese fans for their World Cup tradition of staying back after games to clean the stadium.

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 Feb. 3.

The winners are announced at a Feb. 27 ceremony in Paris.