ZURICH: Antoine Griezmann is the new challenger to Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo for FIFA’s annual player award.
FIFA named the France forward on a three-man shortlist Friday for the rebranded Best Player Award. All three candidates play for Spanish clubs.
Messi and Ronaldo have split the FIFA honor over the past eight seasons, and placed 1-2 in seven of those years.
Ronaldo won his third award in January. Messi has it won five times.
Greizmann’s teams, France and Atletico Madrid, were beaten by Ronaldo’s Portugal and Real Madrid in the finals of the European Championship and Champions League.
Voting is by national team captains and coaches, selected journalists and — for the first time — an online poll of fans. Each category counts for 25 percent of the total.
The winner will be announced on Jan. 9 at FIFA’s annual awards ceremony in Zurich.
Griezmann is looking to avoid joining an illustrious club of players who finished third behind Messi and Ronaldo. It currently includes: Neymar, Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta, Franck Ribery, Manuel Neuer and Fernando Torres.
Ronaldo’s club and country coaches — Zinedine Zidane and Fernando Santos — are on the shortlist for the men’s coaching award.
Claudio Ranieri is also on the list after leading Leicester to a surprise Premier League title.
Germany’s Olympic title-winning team is in contention for the women’s player and coach awards.
Midfielder Melanie Behringer is challenging two past winners, defending champion Carli Lloyd of the United States and five-time winner Marta of Brazil. All three candidates have played more than 100 times for their country.
All three coaching candidates are previous FIFA award winners: Silvia Neid of Germany, Jill Ellis of the United States and Pia Sundhage of Sweden.
Three goals were shortlisted for the Puskas Award, voted for by fans online: Marlone (for Corinthians vs. Cobresal, Copa Libertadores); Daniuska Rodriguez (for Venezuela vs. Colombia, South American Women’s Under-17 Championship); Mohd Faiz Subri (for Penang vs. Pahang, Malaysia Super League).
FIFA will also present a Fan Award and Fair Play Award.
The ceremony was rebranded after FIFA’s six-year partnership ended with France Football magazine, which retained the rights to the Ballon d’Or name and player award.