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Sources: Barca to cut scouting department in half

 By PA Sport

Luis Suarez's on-pitch behaviour likely to have led to Ballon d'Or snub

Luis Suarez's controversial on-field antics appear to have counted strongly against him when an expert panel convened to draw up a 23-man shortlist for the 2014 Ballon d'Or award.

Suarez, who joined Barcelona from Liverpool in the summer, was perhaps the most notable omission from the list of contenders published on Tuesday morning.

The forward scored 31 goals for the Reds last term as they narrowly missed out on the Premier League title, but his campaign ended in controversy after he bit Italy's Giorgio Chiellini while playing for Uruguay at the World Cup.

He was hit with a four-month ban by FIFA as a consequence -- a suspension which ended when he made his Barcelona debut against Real Madrid on Saturday -- and but for that, many feel he would have made the list and been a strong contender for the award.

A FIFA spokesman told Press Association Sport that "expert groups" had made subjective choices when drawing up the list, making special reference to articles two and three of the 12-point criteria.

Article two states that "the awards reward the best in each category, without distinction of championship or nationality,'' while article three identifies why Suarez may have fallen short this year.

It reads: "The awards are bestowed according to on-field performance and overall behaviour on and off the pitch.''

As it stands, Barcelona forward Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid, the holder of the award, are sure to battle it out once more.

Ronaldo's stunning form in 2014 puts him down as the clear favourite -- he guided Real to a Champions League triumph in May and has 21 goals in 14 appearances so far this season.

The 23-man list will be whittled down to three on Dec. 1, with the winner announced in Zurich on Jan. 12.


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