2011 FIFA Ballon d’Or Winners
The annual FIFA gala was held in Zurich, Switzerland today, where the stars of the beautiful game both past and present converged to celebrate a great year in soccer. Various individual awards were presented and no one will be shocked with the results.
The most hyped award, the FIFA Ballon d’Or for best male player, was yet again handed to FC Barcelona’s 24-year-old Argentinian striker, Lionel Messi. This was Messi’s third consecutive win, meaning he is now among the prestigious ranks of Johan Cruyff, Michel Platini, and Marco van Basten. The competition was a landslide, with Messi garnering 47.88% of the votes in comparison with fellow nominees Real Madrid’s Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo with 21.6% and FC Barcelona teammate and Spanish international Xavi Hernández with 9.23%.
The Brazilian Marta ended her five-time reign as Best Female Player of the year, as it was instead the captain of the World Cup-winning Japanese national team Homare Sawa taking home the golden ball. She finished ahead of Marta and United States national team striker Abby Wambach, with the voting breakdown being 28.51%, 17.28%, and 13.26%, respectively.
Pep Guardiola , head coach of FC Barcelona,won the World Coach of the Year award in front of his competitors Sir Alex Ferguson of Manchester United and José Mourinho of Real Madrid. This category was also not a tight race as Guardiola received 41.92% to Ferguson’s 15.61% and Mourinho’s 12.43%. However, the old Scottish gaffer did not leave the night empty handed, as he was presented the FIFA Presidential Award by FIFA President Joseph Blatter for his 25-year-long illustrious career at just one club.
Norio Sasaki was named World Coach of the Year for a women’s team after leading the Nadeshiko to World Cup glory this summer in Germany. He claimed almost half of the votes with 45.57%, followed by US women’s national team coach Pia Sundhage with 15.83%, and France’s national team coach Bruno Bini with 10.28%.
The FIFA/FIFPro World XI was as follows: Iker Casillas (Spain/Real Madrid); Dani Alves (Brazil/Barcelona), Gerard Piqué (Spain/Barcelona), Sergio Ramos (Spain/Real Madrid), Nemanja Vidic (Serbia/Manchester United); Xabi Alonso (Spain/Real Madrid), Andrés Iniesta (Spain/Barcelona), Xavi (Spain/Barcelona); Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal/Real Madrid), Lionel Messi (Argentina/Barcelona), Wayne Rooney (England/Manchester United). These players were selected by over 50,ooo professional footballers from around the world.
Up and coming 19-year-old Brazilian and Santos forward Neymar was voted the most beautiful goal of the year and thus the
FIFA Puskás Award. His goal was voted on by over 1.5 million fans and beat out a technical goal from Messi and a bicycle kick from Rooney.
Finally, the FIFA Fair Play Award was given to the Japanese Football Association which displayed great strength and courage after earthquakes, tsunamis, and nuclear disasters ravaged its country. Not only did the women’s national team become World Champions just a few months after the tragedy, but Japan also successfully hosted the 2011 FIFA Club World Cup this December.
Highlights from the entire awards gala can be watched here.