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SPORTS | 23-09-2019 17:52

'The Best': Lionel Messi win FIFA men's player of the year award

Barcelona star sees off Cristiano Ronaldo and Virgil van Dijk to win award; Marcelo Bielsa honoured with 'Fair Play' award for incident at Leeds.

Lionel Messi won his sixth FIFA player of the year award on Monday night, while Megan Rapinoe won her first, at a lavish ceremony at Milan's iconic Teatro all Scala on Monday.

Rapinoe, the outspoken US women's football star,  was rewarded at the FIFA Best awards for leading the United States to the women's World Cup title in July, as was Jill Ellis who won the women's coach award. Rapinoe scored six goals in the tournament, earning her the Golden Boot for the tournament's top scorer and the Golden Ball as the top player.

Messi's award moved the Barcelona and Albiceleste forward one ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo, who was also among the three finalists. Messi's victory in Milan, however, was a bit of a surprise as he edged out Virgil Van Dijk, who won the UEFA player's award last month after helping Liverpool to the Champions League last season.

Both Messi and Van Dijk are now in the running for the coveted Ballon d'Or which will be announced on December 2. Juventus's forward Cristiano Ronaldo had also been shortlisted for the award.

The duo have dominated the award since 2008, with their string of victories only interrupted by Luka Modric last year.

Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp was named coach of the year after steering the Anfield side to the Champions League title in June.

Another Argentine was also honoured at the event: legendary coach Marcelo Bielsa. The Leeds United manager and his team were picked out as the recipients of the Fair Play award, for their behaviour in a controversial 1-1 draw with Aston Villa earlier this year.

“Some residents of planet football consider winning the ultimate. The only purpose of playing the sport. For others though, there are values which need to be held even higher than those which bring victory,” a statement on Fifa’s website read.

“In April 2019, Marcelo Bielsa and the Leeds United squad were chasing automatic promotion to the English Premier League. They faced Aston Villa, and went 1-0 up. However, Mateusz Klich’s goal was scored while a Villa player lay injured. Bielsa ordered his side to allow the opposition to equalise.

“The game finished 1-1, ultimately allowing their promotion rivals Sheffield United to guarantee their automatic spot in the Premier League, at Leeds’ expense. What was at stake makes Bielsa’s act of sportsmanship all the more remarkable.”

 

 

Full list of winners

Best men's player: Lionel Messi (ARG/Barcelona)

Best women's player: Megan Rapinoe (USA/Reign FC)

Best men's goalkeeper: Alisson Becker (BRA/Liverpool)

Best women's goalkeeper: Sari van Veenendaal (NED/Atletico Madrid) 

Men's World 11 team of year: Alisson Becker (BRA/Liverpool); Sergio Ramos (ESP/Real Madrid), Virgil Van Dijk (NED/Liverpool), Matthijs De Ligt (NED/Juventus), Marcelo (BRA/Real Madrid); Luka Modric (CRO/Real Madrid), Frenkie De Jong (NED/Barcelona), Eden Hazard (BEL/Real Madrid); Lionel Messi (ARG/FC Barcelona), Kylian Mbappe (FRA/PSG), Cristiano Ronaldo (POR/Juventus) 

Women's World 11 team of year: Sari Van Veenendaal (NED/Atletico Madrid); Lucy Bronze (ENG/Lyon), Wendie Renard (FRA/Lyon), Nilla Fischer (SWE/Linkopings), Kelly O'Hara (USA/Utah Royals); Amandine Henry (FRA/Lyon), Julie Ertz (USA/Chicago), Rose Lavelle (USA/Washington); Marta (BRA/Orlando), Alex Morgan (USA/Orlando), Megan Rapinoe (USA/Reign FC) 

Men's coach: Jurgen Klopp (Liverpool)

Women's coach: Jill Ellis (USA)

Puskas Award best goal: Daniel Zsori (HUN/Debrecen)

Fair-play award: Marcelo Bielsa and Leeds United

 

– TIMES/AFP/AP

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