Messi and Putellas named best players at FIFA awards again

PARIS (AP) — World Cup champion Lionel Messi edged Kylian Mbappé again, this time to claim FIFA’s best men’s player award on Monday.

The best women’s player was Spain’s Alexia Putellas for the second year in a row.

After guiding Argentina to the World Cup in an epic final against Mbappé’s France in Qatar last year, Messi won the best player vote against Mbappé and Karim Benzema to secure the FIFA award for the seventh time in 14 years.

He won the World Cup on his record fifth attempt.

“It was a crazy year for me,” Messi said. “I could fulfill my dream (World Cup) after fighting for it for so long. And finally it happened, and it was the most beautiful thing in my career. It’s the dream of every player, but very few can achieve it, so I’m thankful to God that he was able to do it.”

The three players made the final shortlist by voting by a global panel of national team captains and coaches, selected journalists in each of FIFA’s 211 member countries, plus fans online.

The 35-year-old Messi also beat Mbappé – who was seeking his first FIFA best player award – to the Golden Ball trophy awarded by FIFA for the best player of the World Cup. Mbappé received the golden boot as top scorer.

In the FIFA Awards voting, Messi had 52 points, Mbappé 44 and Benzema 34.

Mbappé, 11 years younger than Messi at 24 and considered Messi’s heir on the world stage, made the three-man list for the first time. He was fourth in voting for the 2018 award, the year he led France to the World Cup title.

Real Madrid star Benzema won the more prestigious Ballon d’Or in October ahead of the World Cup. The French striker missed the tournament due to injury. Messi was not on the long list of Ballon d’Or candidates announced in August.

Robert Lewandowski won the FIFA award for the past two years and Cristiano Ronaldo was left out of the 14-player shortlist for the award this year for the first time.

Messi broke a record he shared with Ronaldo by making the men’s World XI for the 16th time. The team included Belgium’s Thibaut Courtois, Morocco’s Achraf Hakimi, Portugal’s João Cancelo, Netherlands’ Virgil van Dijk, Belgium’s Kevin de Bruyne, Croatia’s Luka Modric, Brazil’s Casemiro, Norway’s Erling Haaland and France’s Mbappé and Benzema.

Earlier on Monday, French prosecutors opened a preliminary investigation into a rape allegation against Hakimi, a defender at Paris Saint-Germain.

Messi voted for former Barcelona teammate Neymar as his choice for best player. Only Brazil captain Thiago Silva also voted for Neymar.

Russia’s coach and captain were not barred from voting in the award.

Putellas won the award from Alex Morgan of the USA and Beth Mead, who led England to the 2022 European Championship title.

Barcelona playmaker Putellas made the top three again despite being injured days before the European Championship and missing the tournament. She scored 34 goals across all competitions last season.

Mead was joint top scorer at the EC, and was named the tournament’s best player. She suffered a serious knee injury in November while playing for Arsenal and could miss July’s Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

Morgan, who finished second in the 2019 poll to teammate Megan Rapinoe, was the player of the tournament when the USA won the CONCACAF W Championship last year. She also became joint top scorer.

Earlier, Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni was named FIFA Men’s Coach of the Year after leading his team to the World Cup title in December.

The Women’s Coach’s Award went to Sarina Wiegman, who led England to the Women’s European Championship title.

Scaloni took over Argentina at the end of 2018 on an interim basis, and was widely criticized for his lack of experience as he had never coached a professional team. Earlier on Monday, his contract as national team coach was extended until the end of the 2026 World Cup.

The other coaches on the shortlist were Real Madrid’s Carlo Ancelotti and Manchester City’s Pep Guardiola.

The women’s goalkeeper award was given to European Championship winner Mary Earps of England, and the best men’s goalkeeper was Argentina’s World Cup winner Emiliano Martínez.

The event in Paris was marked by tributes to Pelé, who died late last year at the age of 82 after a battle with colon cancer. Pelé’s wife, Marcia Aoki, received a trophy to honor the great football from the hands of former Brazil striker Ronaldo.

“I have three words to say to God, who gave us Edson; to Edson, who gave us Pelé; and to the world, which welcomed them so well: Grateful, grateful and grateful,” she said.


More AP soccer: and

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *