On Monday, Cristiano Ronaldo won FIFA’s best player award for the fourth time on Monday, after Portugal and Real Madrid won both major European titles in 2016. Italian Claudio Ranieri received the coach of the year award for leading rank outsiders Leicester City to the English Premier League title.
“I don’t have much more to say, I think the awards speak for themselves. the trophy shows that people aren’t blind and watch the games,” he said after accepting the award from FIFA president Gianni Infantino.
He beat runner-up and great rival Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann to complete a sweep of top individual awards. Lionel Messi was pulled out a few hours earlier by his club Barcelona from the award show co-hosted by US actress and former “Desperate Housewives” star Eva Longoria.
Barcelona said Messi was focused on preparing for an upcoming match against Athletiv Bilbao. “With the aim of prioritizing preparations for Wednesday’s game against Athletic Club [Bilbao,] FC Barcelona have decided that the players recognized in the awards will not be traveling to Switzerland for the ceremony,” Messi’s club FC Barcelona in a statement.
“I would like Messi to have been here today but they have an important game on Wednesday and we can understand that,” Ronaldo said.
Ronaldo was rewarded for his performance in 2016 when he won the Champions League with his club Real Madrid and then Euro 2016 with Portugal. Five-times winner and four-time runner-up Messi was second and Frenchman Antoine Griezmann third.
Ronaldo got 34.54 percent of total voting points in a 23-candidate ballot. Messi received 26.42 percent, and third-place Griezmann got 7.53 percent. Voting was by national team captains and coaches, selected media, and fans online.
“2016 was the best year of my career. It was a year that was magnificent at a personal level and at a sporting level,” the 31-year-old Ronaldo said in Portuguese in his acceptance speech, which he began by exclaiming “Wow, wow, wow.”
Ronaldo previously won in 2008, 2013 and 2014 with Messi second on each occasion. Messi won from 2009-2012 and then again in 2015 with Ronaldo second on every occasion except in 2010 when Andres Iniesta was runner-up.
FIFA, which organized the award jointly with France Football magazine from 2010 to 2015 when it was named the Ballon d’Or, rebranded it as “The Best” this year after splitting with the French publication. France Football continued with its own award which was also won by Ronaldo last month.
Ronaldo’s 2016 trophy haul included the European Championship, Champions League, and Club World Cup, plus individual best player awards from UEFA and France Football magazine.
“I won a lot trophies, collective and individual, so I am proud,” said Ronaldo, adding he would send the inaugural silver FIFA Best trophy to the museum dedicated to his career on his home island, Madeira.
Messi guided Barcelona to a Spanish league and cup double, and was named to international union FIFPro’s World XI, though he captained Argentina to lose the Copa America final. Griezmann’s France and Atletico Madrid lost both finals to Ronaldo’s teams.
Ronaldo’s mentors for club and country were beaten to the coaching award by Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri, who earned the prize for a stunning English Premier League title.
Ranieri said he was “crazy” after winning the coach’s award ahead of Fernando Santos, who led Portugal to the Euro 2016 title. “I am crazy now.” “What happened last year was something strange. The God of football said Leicester must win,” said Ranieri, who was in his first season at the unfashionable provincial club widely tipped for relegation.
Ranieri rose from his seat and politely shook hands with his two opponents, Madrid’s Zinedin Zidane and Portugal’s Fernando Santos, plus their partners before heading to the stage. The 65-year-old Italian collected his trophy from Diego Maradona, who earlier Monday played in an exhibition match with other retired greats at FIFA headquarters.
US midfielder Carli Lloyd scooped the best women’s player of 2016, the two-time Olympic gold medalist adding to her 2015 FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year accolade. With gold-medal winner Melanie Behringer of Germany in third place, Lloyd got more than 20 percent of the vote and five-time winner Marta of Brazil was runner-up with 16.6 percent. Behringer got 12.34 percent.
“I honestly was not expecting this,” Lloyd said. “I know Melanie did fantastic in the Olympics.”
Germany did win the women’s coaching prize as Silvia Neid earned her second FIFA prize, after also winning the 2010 award. Neid beat two previous winners, last year’s winner, Jill Ellis Of the United States, and Pia Sundhage of Sweden, the Olympic silver medalist.
The ceremony previously held at the Kongresshaus theater in central Zurich, this year took place in the much more modest setting of a television studio on an industrial estate near the airport.