All 23 players named on the Ballon D’Or Award shortlist Tuesday play for European clubs, though eight are from South America and one, Ivory Coast midfielder Yaya Toure, is African.
No Asian player or club featured in the nominations compiled by FIFA and France Football magazine. English and Italian players also failed to make the list.
The winners will be announced on Jan. 11 at a ceremony in Zurich.
The list of Ballon d’Or nominees will be shortened to the final three contenders on Nov. 30 with Messi and Ronaldo almost certain to make the cut.
Despite neither winning a major national team title, Messi and Ronaldo have shared the Ballon d’Or since 2008. Messi has won four awards and Ronaldo three, including in 2013 and 2014.
Sampaoli is competing with nine coaches of European clubs, including Luis Enrique of Barcelona and Jose Mourinho of English champion Chelsea.
Voting is by national team coaches and captains, plus a selected journalist, from each of FIFA’s 209 member federations. Polling closes on Nov. 20.
Player shortlist: Sergio Aguero (Argentina/Manchester City), Gareth Bale (Wales/Real Madrid), Karim Benzema (France/Real Madrid), Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal/Real Madrid), Kevin De Bruyne (Belgium/Wolfsburg/Manchester City), Eden Hazard (Belgium/Chelsea), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden/Paris Saint-Germain), Andres Iniesta (Spain/Barcelona), Toni Kroos (Germany/Real Madrid), Robert Lewandowski (Poland/Bayern Munich), Javier Mascherano (Argentina/Barcelona), Lionel Messi (Argentina/Barcelona), Thomas Mueller (Germany/Bayern Munich), Manuel Neuer (Germany/Bayern Munich), Neymar (Brazil/Barcelona), Paul Pogba (France/Juventus), Ivan Rakitic (Croatia/Barcelona), Arjen Robben (Netherlands/Bayern Munich), James Rodriguez (Colombia/Real Madrid), Alexis Sanchez (Chile/Arsenal), Luis Suarez (Uruguay/Barcelona), Yaya Toure (Ivory Coast/Manchester City), Arturo Vidal (Chile/Juventus/Bayern Munich).
Coach shortlist: Massimiliano Allegri (Italy/Juventus), Carlo Ancelotti (Italy/Real Madrid), Laurent Blanc (France/Paris Saint-Germain), Unai Emery (Spain/Sevilla), Pep Guardiola (Spain/Bayern Munich), Luis Enrique Martinez (Spain/Barcelona), Jose Mourinho (Portugal/Chelsea), Jorge Sampaoli (Argentina/Chile national team), Diego Simeone (Argentina/Atletico Madrid), Arsene Wenger (France/Arsenal).