Finalists Spain dominates nominations for the Golden Ball award as the World Cup’s best player, which were announced on Friday in Johannesburg.
Three Spaniards were tapped: Andres Iniesta, Xavi and David Villa.
They were joined by Wesley Sneijder and Arjen Robben from the Netherlands, Spain’s opponent in the final.
Germany, who plays for third place in Port Elizabeth on Saturday, also had two nominees in Mesut Oezil and Bastian Schweinsteiger.
Diego Forlan of Uruguay, Germany’s play-off opponent, was nominated as well.
The two final players in contention for the award are Argentine Lionel Messi and Ghana’s Asamoah Gyan.
Speaking at the presentation of the nominees, former Germany goalkeeper Oliver Kahn, the only goalkeeper to win the award, said he thought the winner this time around would come from the World Cup titlist.
“There seems to be an unwritten rule that you need to get at least into the semifinal, preferably into the final, to win the award, and I think you’ll see the winner from the team that wins the competition.” Kahn, who won the award in 2002 in South Korea/Japan, said he had been very surprised when his name was announced. “It was totally unexpected as I thought that a goalkeeper stood no chance.
“My teammates even said, a bit tongue-in-cheek, that it can’t be right that a goalkeeper wins the award.” Kahn, who said he regarded the Golden Ball and award as the world’s best goalkeeper of the year as his biggest individual prizes as a player, conceded that he was a bit fortunate in being chosen as the best player in 2002.
“I think I was a bit lucky that many of the big players were knocked out early with their teams. That made it a bit easier for me.” He said he was pleased to see that some German players had also been nominated. “Players like Oezil, Schweinsteiger and also Thomas Mueller have been very good. But they’re still a bit young and that’s why it might be a bit early for them to be given the award.”
Zambian Kalusha Bwalya, a member of the FIFA technical committee, which nominated the players, said that players who remained in the competition longer were at an advantage.
“It is important to wait as long as possible before making the nominations, and players have a better chance of being crowned with the Golden Ball if they are in the competition for as long as possible.
“In the first round the teams are more defensive and it’s difficult for players to shine, but in the second round players have opened up.
“We want to encourage football as a spectacle and as more attack-minded. That is why the nominees are all attacking players.
The final will have a big say in who ultimately wins the award.” The technical committee nominates 10 players, and all accredited media then vote for their choice.
Keywords: 2010 FIFA World Cup