ZURICH – Cristiano Ronaldo won FIFA’s rebranded player of the year award on Monday, beating off his old rival Lionel Messi who was pulled out of the ceremony only a few hours earlier by his club Barcelona hours.
Italian Claudio Ranieri won the coach of the year award for leading outsiders Leicester City to the English Premier League title.
The 31-year-old Ronaldo was rewarded for a year in which he won the Champions League with his club Real Madrid and then Euro 2016 with Portugal. Argentine Messi was second in the vote and Frenchman Antoine Griezmann third.
“I’m very happy and I can say that 2016 was the best year of my career,” said Ronaldo as he was presented the award by FIFA president Gianni Infantino.
Messi missed the ceremony along with all other Barcelona players who had been invited.
“With the aim of prioritising preparations for Wednesday’s game against Athletic Club, FC Barcelona have decided that the players recognised in the awards will not be travelling to Switzerland for the ceremony,” said the club in a statement.
Ronaldo also won the France Football’s Ballon d’Or, the other major international award for the sport, last month.
Ronaldo also won the old FIFA award once in 2008 and also in 2013 and 2014 when it was organised jointly with France Football magazine. – Reuters