Brazil Leads All Countries With Six Players Nominated for FIFA World Player of the Year Award

ZURICH Switzerland (Assocated Press) -- Brazil has the most nominations for FIFA's World Player of the Year award with Real Madrid's Ronaldo and Roberto Carlos among six in contention FIFA said Tuesday.

The other Brazilians on the 35-player shortlist are AC Milan's Cafu and Kaka; Adriano of Inter Milan; and Barcelona's Ronaldinho.

England has the next most nominations with five despite its disappointing exit at the quarterfinal stage of Euro 2004 including its teenage hero of that tournament Wayne Rooney.

Real Madrid's David Beckham and Michael Owen; Chelsea's Frank Lampard; and Steven Gerrard of Liverpool are the other Englishmen with a chance of winning.

Euro 2004 winner Greece has just one nomination Theo Zagorakis while defeated finalist Portugal has three: Christiano Ronaldo Deco and Luis Figo.

Deposed champions France has last year's winner Zinedine Zidane Robert Pires and Thierry Henry in the running.

Czech Milan Baros -- top scorer at Euro 2004 -- is also nominated along with international teammate Pavel Nedved.

FIFA said it was changing the panel of voters for this year's awards which will be decided Dec. 20 in Zurich.

Male and female captains of every national team will be able to vote as well as their coaches and the global organization for professional soccer players.

There are also 21 players in contention for the female Player of the Year award including last year's winner Birgit Prinz and the recently retired Mia Hamm who carried the flag for the United States at the Olympic closing ceremony in Athens.

Voting takes place this month and each list will be narrowed down to three players by November FIFA said.

Total List of Nominees: Adriano (Brazil) Roberto Ayala (Argentina) Michael Ballack (Germany) Milan Baros (Czech Rep) David Beckham (England) Gianluigi Buffon (Italy) Cafu (Brazil) Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal) Deco (Portugal) Didier Drogba (Ivory Coast) Samuel Eto'o (Cameroon) Luis Figo (Portugal) Steven Gerrard (England) Ryan Giggs (Wales) Thierry Henry (France) Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden) Oliver Kahn (Germany) Kaka (Brazil) Frank Lampard (England) Henrik Larsson (Sweden) Roy Makaay (Netherlands) Paolo Maldini (Italy) Pavel Nedved (Czech Rep) Alessandro Nesta (Italy) Michael Owen (England) Robert Pires (France) Raul (Spain) Roberto Carlos (Brazil) Ronaldinho (Brazil) Ronaldo (Brazil) Wayne Rooney (England) Andrej Shevchenko (Ukraine) Ruud van Nistelrooy (Netherlands) Theodoros Zagorakis (Greece) Zinedine Zidane (France).

FIFA Committee Agrees Over Need to Reduce Matches
ZURICH (Reuters) -- FIFA's strategic studies committee agreed on Tuesday over the need to reduce the number of matches played globally each year.

The aim is to protect players more effectively and avoid burnout especially with a view to the 2006 World Cup.

But a statement after a day-long meeting said it would require concessions "from every party and interest group involved including FIFA the (soccer) confederations associations leagues and clubs."

A wide-ranging eight-hour meeting also covered refereeing the international match calendar development programmes the future of FIFA competitions and FIFA finances.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter said: "I am very happy with the outcome of today's meeting. The overall consensus on major issues by the representatives of the six confederations is very encouraging and I feel optimistic about the future of football."

FIFA's executive committee meets on Wednesday to make decisions on the various issues raised.

Player burnout has long been an issue of concern amid the proliferation of tournaments worldwide. Last month a conference of European coaches concluded top players were "misused and overplayed."

UEFA development director Andy Roxburgh said the premature retirement from the international game of leading players was as much to do with mental as physical burnout.