Three-times reigning world footballer of the year Lionel Messi is joined by Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo and Barcelona team-mate Andres Iniesta in the players nominated Thursday for the 2012 title, dpa reported.
The Spanish-based trio was chosen from a shortlist of 23 for the Ballon d'Or. The winner will be announced at a world governing body FIFA gala in Zurich on January 7.
The names of the three players, selected by national team captains and coaches as well as media representatives, came as no surprise.
Also named at a news conference in Sao Paulo attended by FIFA president Joseph Blatter and Brazilian playing icons Ronaldo and Marta, were Spain coach Vicente del Bosque, Barcelona's former coach Pep Guardiola and Real Madrid's Jose Mourinho as the three candidates for coach of the year.
Brazilian five-time winner Marta, and US players Alex Morgan and Abby Wambach were selected as nominees for the women's footballer of the year. The nominees for the women's coach of the year are Bruno Bini (France), Norio Sasaki (Japan) and Pia Sundhage (Sweden).