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Alarm bells sounding for Everton

Everton
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By ESPN Staff

Golden Ball nominees named

BERLIN (AP) -- The rival captains of World Cup finalists France and Italy are among 10 nominees for the Golden Ball, awarded to the best player in the tournament.

But in a break from tradition, Zinedine Zidane of France and Fabio Cannavaro of Italy will not find out who wins the award until the day after the title game Sunday night in Berlin. Voting by journalists covering the tournament will remain open until midnight, with the winner announced at 10 a.m. Monday morning.

In 2002, voting closed at halftime in the final and the winner was announced after the match; in previous tournaments, voting closed the day before, following the third-place game. Organizers decided to keep the voting open to ensure the outcome reflected all games, instead of just 63 1/2 matches, said FIFA spokesman Markus Siegler.

Other nominees include Germany captain Michael Ballack and striker Miroslav Klose, who is leading the scorers with five goals, and Maniche from Portugal.

The 34-year-old Zidane, who helped France to the 1998 World Cup title, is ending his professional career after the World Cup and has gradually improved in each of five outings here. His penalty kick in the semifinal led France over Portugal on Wednesday night.

Cannavaro has directed the Italian defense, which has conceded only an own-goal in the tournament. Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon is also on the 10-man shortlist announced Thursday along with fellow Italians Andrea Pirlo and Gianluca Zambrotta.

Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira, two other veterans from France's '98 winning team, are also nominated.

German goalkeeper Oliver Kahn won the Golden Ball in 2002. Other previous winners include Brazilians Ronaldo (1998) and Romario ('94); Italians Salvatore Schillaci ('90) and Paolo Rossi ('82); and Argentina's Diego Maradona in 1986.

The final will be preceded by a 10-minute closing ceremony featuring Shakira and 400 performers. The Colombian songstress will work her way down the stone stairs from the Marathon entrance of Berlin's Olympic stadium with local musicians and dancers in a 10-minute performance.

Spanish tenor Placido Domingo will sing at halftime.