Spanish midfielders Andres Iniesta and Xavi and Argentina’s Lionel Messi were chosen as the candidates for the 2010 Ballon d’Or award as best player of the year.

The trio — all from Spanish champions Barcelona — were announced at the headquarters of the sports daily L’Equipe in Paris after being selected from a shortlist of 23 chosen by football’s world governing body FIFA and France Football.

The Ballon d’Or award will for the first time be a combination of the FIFA World Player of the Year award and the France Football Ballon d’Or. Messi is the current World Player of the Year after winning the award in late 2009.

The contenders for the women’s world player of the year award are Germany’s Fatmire Bajramaj and Birgit Prinz and the Brazilian Marta.

The candidates for men’s coach of the year are Vicente del Bosque (Spain/Spanish national team), Pep Guardiola (Spain/Barcelona) and Jose Mourinho (Portugal/Real Madrid).

In the women’s coaching category, Maren Meinert (Germany/German U-20 national team) Silvia Neid (Germany/German national team) and Pia Sundhage (Sweden/US national team) are on the final shortlist.

The nominees were confirmed after a poll by the captains and head coaches of the men’s and women’s national teams as well as by international media representatives selected by France Football.

The winners will be announced at the first FIFA Ballon d’Or gala as part of a televised ceremony at the Zurich Kongresshaus on January 10.

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