One of the official sponsors of the World Cup football finals, Adidas, has announced the 10 nominees for the Golden Ball trophy. The award is given to the most valuable player at the month-long football competition.
Of the 10 nominees, six represent countries that will compete Sunday in the World Cup final here in Yokohama. They are Michael Ballack and Oliver Kahn of Germany, and Rivaldo, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and Roberto Carlos, all from Brazil.
Ballack, a key midfield playmaker for Germany, will not get to play in Sunday's championship match. He scored the decisive goal in Germany's one-nil semifinal victory over South Korea. But he also picked up his second yellow card an offense that results in an automatic one-match suspension.
The four other Golden Ball nominees are Fernando Hierro of Spain, El Hadji Diouf of Senegal, Myong Bo Hong of South Korea, and Hasan Sas of Turkey.
The technical committee of world football's governing body, FIFA, selected the 10 players. Members of the international media will vote on the winner Sunday. A silver and bronze ball, for the second and third place finishers, will also be awarded. The winners will be announced July second.
The chief executive officer of Adidas, Herbert Hainer, said all the nominees have thrilled football fans during the World Cup. "Each of these 10 players deserves the nomination. Simply because of the fact that, in the last month, they have not only entertained, but they have also inspired the world with their skills," Mr. Hainer said.
One of the football ambassadors on hand for the nomination ceremony here in Yokohama was former German star Franz Beckenbauer. Beckenbauer played a key role in Germany winning the right to host the next World Cup in 2006. He was asked his impressions of the current World Cup.
"It's a very, very impressive World Cup, so far. It's the first World Cup that is in Asia. It's the first World Cup to be hosted by two countries, Japan and South Korea," he said, "and everybody, including us, was very, very curious before the World Cup, how does it work? And nearly at the end of the competition, we can say it did work, and it did work in a really great, great way."
The Golden Ball trophy was established in 1982. Of the 10 nominees, only Brazilian star Ronaldo has won the award in the past. Ronaldo has scored a tournament-high six goals so far at the World Cup, and he may very well add a second Golden Ball to his trophy case.