Cristiano Ronaldo wins FIFA best player award for 4th time

Cristiano Ronaldo wins FIFA best player award for 4th time

ZURICH — Cristiano Ronaldo received FIFA’s best player award for the fourth time on Monday, after Portugal and Real Madrid won both major European titles in 2016.

He beat runner-up and great rival Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann to complete a sweep of top individual awards.

“2016 was the best year of my career,” Ronaldo said in Portuguese in his acceptance speech, which he began by exclaiming “Wow, wow, wow.”

Ronaldo got 34.54 per cent of total voting points in a 23-candidate ballot. Messi received 26.42 per cent, and third-place Griezmann got 7.53 per cent. Voting was by national team captains and coaches, selected media, and fans online.

Ronaldo’s fourth FIFA award closed the gap on five-time winner Messi, the runner-up to each Ronaldo victory, who did not attend the ceremony.

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.

Messi’s Barcelona won the Spanish league and cup double, though he captained Argentina to lose the Copa America final.

Griezmann’s France and Atletico Madrid lost both finals to Ronaldo’s teams.

Canadian captain Julian de Guzman voted for Ronaldo followed by Messi and Uruguay’s Luis Suarez. Interim Canadian coach Michael Findlay chose Ronaldo ahead of Messi and Poland’s Robert Lewandowski.

Ronaldo’s coaches for club and country were beaten by Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri, who earned the men’s coaching prize for a stunning English Premier League title.

“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 collected his trophy from Diego Maradona, who earlier Monday played in an exhibition match with other retired greats at FIFA headquarters.Like Ronaldo, Carli Lloyd of the United States won a FIFA player prize for the second year in a row.

Lloyd won despite Germany midfielder Melanie Behringer playing on the Olympic gold medal-winning team. Five-time winner Marta was runner-up and Behringer was third.

“I honestly was not expecting this,” Lloyd said. “I know Melanie did fantastic in the 2016 Olympics.”

Canadian captain Christine Sinclair voted for Behringer, with Germany’s Dzsenifer Marozsan her second-choice followed by France’s Amandine Henry. Canada coach John Herdman went for Sinclair, followed by Behringer and Sweden’s Lotta Schelin.

Sinclair chose Herdman as top coach, followed by Neid and Sundhage. Herdman chose Sundhage, followed by Neid and former South Africa coach Vera Pauw

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: Pia Sundhage of Sweden, the Olympic silver medallist , and last year’s winner, Jill Ellis of the United States.The Puskas Award for best goal was won by Mohd Faiz Subri, who scored with a wildly swerving long-range free kick for Malaysian club Penang.

A players’ vote organized by international union FIFPro gave a World XI of: Manuel Neuer (Germany, Bayern Munich); Dani Alves (Brazil, Barcelona/Juventus), Sergio Ramos (Spain, Real Madrid), Gerard Pique (Spain, Barcelona), Marcelo (Brazil, Real Madrid); Toni Kroos (Germany, Real Madrid), Andres Iniesta (Spain, Barcelona), Luka Modric (Croatia, Real Madrid); Messi, Luis Suarez (Uruguay, Barcelona), Ronaldo.

The First FIFA fan award was chosen by fans and was made to supporters of Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund, who joined in singing the English club’s anthem “You’ll Never Walk Alone” before a Europa League quarterfinal. The other nominees were Iceland fans at Euro 2016, and Dutch club ADO Den Haag, whose fans brought soft toys to children supporting rival team Feyenoord.

FIFA made its Fair Play Award to Atletico Nacional, the Colombian club which was scheduled to host Chapecoense in the first leg of the Copa Sudamericana final on Nov. 30.

After most of the Brazilian team died in a plane crash flying to the match, Atletico Nacional asked the South American soccer confederation to present the title and trophy to Chapecoense.

Graham Dunbar, The Associated Press

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