Football legend Lionel Messi, whose team walked away with the World Cup last year, was awarded FIFA’s best men’s player award on Monday (February 27).
The best women’s player was Spain’s Alexia Putellas for a second straight year.
After steering Argentina to World Cup glory in an epic final against Mbappé’s France last year in Qatar, Messi won the best player vote against Mbappé and Karim Benzema to secure the FIFA prize for the seventh time in 14 years.
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The three players made the final shortlist in 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 best player award from FIFA to the Golden Ball trophy awarded by FIFA for the World Cup’s best player.
Putellas won her award from Alex Morgan of the United States and Beth Mead, who led England to the European Championship title in 2022. Barcelona playmaker Putellas made the top three again despite being injured days before the Euro and missing the tournament.
Mead was the joint top scorer at the Euro, and was named the tournament’s best player. She sustained a serious knee injury in November while playing for Arsenal and could miss the Women’s World Cup in July in Australia and New Zealand.
Morgan, who was second in the 2019 vote to teammate Megan Rapinoe, was player of the tournament when the U.S. won the CONCACAF W Championship last year. She was also the joint top scorer.
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Earlier, Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni was voted FIFA men’s coach of the year after leading his team to the World Cup title in December. The women’s coach award went to Sarina Wiegman, who led the England to the title at the Women’s European Championship. Scaloni took over Argentina at the end of 2018 on an interim basis, and was widely criticized for lacking experience as he had never coached a professional team. Earlier Monday, his contract as the national team coach was extended to 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.
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The women’s goalkeeper award was given to Euro 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 age 82 following a battle with colon cancer. Pelé’s wife, Marcia Aoki, received a trophy honoring the soccer great 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, who received them so well: Grateful, grateful and grateful,” she said.
(With inputs from agencies)