Previous host of the glitzy Ballon d’Or ceremony included high profile names like Dutch Total Football legend Ruud Gullit, Sky Sports journalist Kate Abdo and popular pop star Shakira. This year actor James Nesbitt and TV presenter Kate Abdo will co-host the Ballon d’Or Gala in Zurich on January 11.
This will be James’ first stint at hosting the ceremony while the multi-lingual sports presenter Kate hosted the ceremony last year.
The Northern Irish actor is also a big Manchester United fan and has regularly invested in football. He donated thousands of pounds to save his local team Coleraine FC from going bankrupt back in 2003.
The three-man shortlist for the coveted world player award features two Barcelona players, Lionel Messi and Neymar, and Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid with Messi tipped to be winning the prize for the fifth time ending Ronaldo’s run of two consecutive titles.
Messi is also nominated for the Puskas Award for the best goal of the year at the ceremony.
The three-man shortlist did stir controversy with the absence of the third member of Barcelona’s treble-winning front line Luis Suarez, especially with Suarez’s fantastic form this season.
In an official statement, FIFA announced: “The Northern Irish actor James Nesbitt and the English journalist Kate Abdo Gala will present the FIFA Ballon d’Or, which will bring together under one the biggest names in world football roof.
Known worldwide for his starring role in the recent adaptation of The Hobbit by Hollywood, Nesbitt will debut at the ceremony. This passionate supporter of Manchester United has himself often been rewarded in his time, but on January 11, he will officiate as emcee alongside football stars.
Sports journalist for 10 years, Abdo is fluent in French, German and Spanish. She speaks regularly on Sky Sports News HQ, where she also deals with the Spanish football. She also assured for FOX Sports coverage of the Rugby World Cup, Canada 2015 ™, including the final in Vancouver which was the most watched football match in the history of American television.
Back on the scene Gala, she hosted for the first time last year, Abdo is already well established. ‘When I was asked to participate in the Golden Ball last year, I thought it would be a unique experience,’ she says. ‘Y take part a second time is a privilege you know who will be in the crowd, you see the red carpet, you saw all these legendary faces you’ve always admired as a journalist. People which you have followed your entire career. And then, suddenly, they are in the room and they listen to you…”