Dec. 9 (UPI) -- The three man shortlist for FIFA's Ballon d'Or, the top prize for an individual in soccer which translates to Golden Ball, has been named.
Ribery was the front runner for the award after his team won the Champions League and the German Bundesliga title. However, voting was controversially pushed back before European World Cup playoff matches. In Portugal's playoff match against Sweden, the mercurial Ronaldo scored three goals to led his team to the World Cup and some experts say that performance will allow him to take home the award.
Messi has won the award the last three years.
“Franck is an unbelievable player. There is no other player in the world who deserves it [the Ballon d’Or] more," said Bayern President Uli Hoeness.
While anticipation for the winner is being built up among the international soccer community, former Ballon d'Or winner Hristo Stoichkov has criticized the award, saying he is confused over the criteria to be nominated.
"I think the Ballon d'Or should be earned between August and June, within those seven to eight months," he said. "If the award is given in January, what happens? Franck Ribery wins four titles with Bayern, in the same year, Messi wins the title and Ronaldo wins nothing. What happens then if Ribery is injured and does not play from August to December? If Messi and Ronaldo score plenty of great goals while Ribery is not playing, who gets the award then?
"What's the point? The award should be given year-by-year, not for one-and-a-half years. It's just FIFA's latest brainchild. And then they give another 10 or 20 days to give the chance of those who will play at the World Cup to get more votes. It's not fair."