AGENCIES: Argentinian soccer star Lionel Messi beat his rival Christiano Ronaldo to become the men’s FIFA player of the year, while American Megan Rapinoe, who led the US women’s team to this year’s World Cup victory, has been named women’s player of the year at the annual Best FIFA Football Awards on Monday.
It was the sixth time Messi won the award, putting him one ahead of Ronaldo, the Portuguese star,
The duo has dominated the award since 2008, with their string of victories only interrupted by Croatia’s Luka Modric last year.
“I want to thank those who gave this prize to me,” Messi said. “Even though individual awards are a secondary thing to me, it is a unique moment and it is good to celebrate it with my family and my children.”
Rapinoe took home her first best player award, beating teammate Alex Morgan.
The forward scored six goals to help the US defend the World Cup, earning her the Golden Boot for the tournament’s top scorer and the Golden Ball as the best player.
England forward Lucy Bronze was also a finalist.
The ceremony also saw Jill Ellis, who coached the US Women National team to World Cup victory, take home the award for women’s coach of the year, while Jurgen Klopp, who lead Liverpool to the Champions League title last season, was named coach of the year.
“Wow, what a ride,” said Ellis, who retired in July, shortly after the US beat the Netherlands 2-0 in the World Cup final.
Alisson Becker, who plays for Liverpool and Brazil’s national team, took home men’s goalkeeper of the year, while Sari Van Veenendaal, who captained the Netherlands to the final of the women’s World Cup against the US, won the women’s goalkeeper award.
FIFA, international football’s governing body, began awarding players in an annual ceremony in 1991. They have presented the awards in the ceremony’s current form since 2016.