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Modric, Salah vs Ronaldo again as Ballon d’Or unveiled full nominees.

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FIFA best player of the year Luka Modric remains on track for a second major award after he was named Monday among 30 nominees for the Ballon d’Or alongside the likes of ex-Real Madrid teammate Cristiano Ronaldo, Barcelona’s Lionel Messi and Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah.

Modric, a World Cup runner-up with Croatia, beat Juventus’ Ronaldo and Salah to win the FIFA prize last month after Messi was surprisingly left off the final three-man list.



Ronaldo, currently facing allegations of rape dating back to 2009 that he strenuously denies, has already won the Ballon d’Or five times and is the current holder of the award. Messi has also won the award on five occasions.

FIFA split from the Ballon d’Or in 2016 to launch its own set of awards. The winner of the prestigious Ballon d’Or organised by France Football magazine will be announced on December 3.

Real Madrid and Wales forward Gareth Bale and Manchester City’s Belgium midfielder Kevin De Bruyne also featured among a list of familiar names.

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Bale, who scored two goals in Real’s triumph in the final of the Champions League against Liverpool including a spectacular overhead kick, is joined by club teammates Karim Benzema, Raphael Varane, Isco, Marcelo and Sergio Ramos.

De Bruyne was nominated for helping City win the Premier League and Belgium reach the World Cup semi-finals.

Antoine Griezmann, a World Cup winner with France and Europa League champion at Atletico Madrid, is nominated alongside international teammates, Chelsea midfielder N’Golo Kante, Manchester United’s Paul Pogba and PSG’s Kylian Mbappe.

Eden Hazard gives Chelsea another player in the running after starring alongside De Bruyne at the World Cup, with England’s Golden Boot winner Harry Kane also included.

Manchester City forward Sergio Aguero and PSG’s Neymar are nominated as are two other prolific South American strikers: Uruguayans Edinson Cavani of PSG and Luis Suarez of Barcelona.

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Liverpool’s Brazilian forward Roberto Firmino and Uruguay’s rugged defender Diego Godin of Atletico Madrid also got the nod.

Four goalkeepers are also among the 30 — Thibaut Courtois of Belgium and Real Madrid, Liverpool and Brazil stopper Alisson Becker, Tottenham’s France World Cup winner Hugo Lloris and Atletico’s Jan Oblak.

Also making the cut are Juve’s Mario Mandzukic and Liverpool’s Sadio Mane, while Barcelona are also represented by Croat defender Ivan Rakitic.

For the first time, a Ballon d’Or for women players will be awarded this year, with Champions League winners Lyon accounting for seven of the 15 nominees.

France internationals Amandine Henry, Amel Majri and Wendie Renard are joined on the list by Germany’s Dzsenifer Marozsan, England’s Lucy Bronze, Ada Hegerberg of Norway and Japan defender Saki Kumagai.

Brazil’s Marta, crowned best women’s player for a record sixth time at last month’s FIFA awards, is also in contention after her role in winning the Copa America.

Other nominees are Pernille Harder, Lindsey Horan, Fran Kirby, Sam Kerr, Lieke Martens, Megan Rapinoe and Christine Sinclair.

In another first, the best under-21 player will receive the Kopa Trophy. Kylian Mbappe, the Paris Saint-Germain striker who burst onto the global scene with his performances as France won the World Cup, is the favourite.

The Ballon d’Or, which was first won by Englishman Stanley Matthews in 1956, is decided by a ballot of journalists from around the world.

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24 Hours Across Africa

Hong kong train accident leaves eight injured.

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A rare train derailment disrupted services in Hong Kong on Tuesday, the rail operator said, threatening commuter chaos during rush hour.

The disruption to a usually seamless network used by nearly 6 million people every weekday happened after a train derailed while leaving a station in the Kowloon area, rail operator MTR Corp said.

The government’s information department said eight people were injured and five had been taken to hospital.

Rex Auyeung Pak-kuen, chairman of MTR Corp, told reporters that a derailment had not happened in many years and the cause was not immediately clear.

“We will work together with the government to find out the truth as soon as possible so as to continue to provide safe services,” he said. “We apologize that our passengers were injured in the accident.”

Hong Kong’s rail system has been a target of vandalism during recent pro-democracy protests, with activists angry that MTR has closed stations to stop protesters gathering.

Television footage showed hundreds of passengers trying to get off the derailed train. Public broadcaster RTHK said the train had suddenly swayed and a door had flown off before the train stopped.

Nearby stations were overcrowded, and intervals between trains were extended to 12 minutes from two.

MTR’s shares fell 1.1% in line with the broader Hang Seng Index, which was down 1%.

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24 Hours Across Africa

Rwanda ban Burundi,s music star ahead of annual festival

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Burundian musician Jean Pierre Nimbona, popularly known as Kidum, has told the BBC he is confused by Rwanda’s decision to ban him from playing at the upcoming Kigali Jazz Fusion festival.

Kidum is one of Burundi’s biggest music stars and has performed in Rwanda for the past 16 years.

But a police official phoned the musician’s manager to warn that he would only be allowed to make private visits to Rwanda.

“[My manager was told] Kidum is not supposed to perform, tell him to leave. If he comes for private visits fine, but no performances,” the musician told BBC’s Focus on Africa radio programme.

The mayor of Rwanda’s capital said that in this instance permission had not been sought from the authorities for him to perform at the festival in Kigali.

Kidum was a leading peace activist during Burundi’s civil war between 1993 and 2003 and used his songs to call for reconciliation.

The 44-year-old musician said he had never had problems with Rwandan authorities until recently when three of his shows were cancelled at the last minute – including one in December 2018.

That month Burundi had banned Meddy, a musician who is half-Burundian, half-Rwandan, from performing in the main city of Bujumbura.

Kidum said he was unsure if the diplomatic tensions between Burundi and Rwanda had influenced his ban.

“I don’t know, I don’t have any evidence about that. And if there was politics, I’m not a player in politics, I’m just a freelance musician based in Nairobi,” he said.

He said he would not challenge the ban: “There’s nothing I can do, I just wait until maybe the decision is changed some day.

“It’s similar to a family house and you are denied entry… so you just have to wait maybe until the head of the family decides otherwise.”

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