Lionel Messi wins FIFA world player award
ZURICH – Lionel Messi won his second straight FIFA player of the year award Monday, with his mesmerizing play for Barcelona outweighing a disappointing World Cup.
The Argentine forward beat out Barcelona teammates Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta for the renamed FIFA Golden Ball Award, which merged the FIFA player of the year with France Football’s Golden Ball. Messi became the first repeat winner since Ronaldinho in 2004 and 2005.
Messi received 22.65 percent of the votes cast by national team coaches and captains plus selected reporters. Iniesta followed with 17.36 percent and Xavi received 16.48 per cent to finish third for the second straight year. All three finalists are products of Barcelona’s La Masia youth academy.
Eight of the 20 winners of the FIFA award have come from Barcelona, which also won with Brazilians Romario (1994), Ronaldo (1996 and 1997), Rivaldo (1999) and Ronaldinho.
Jose Mourinho was voted men’s coach of the year after leading Inter Milan to the European Champions League title, Brazilian forward Marta was selected women’s player of the year for the fifth straight time and Germany’s Silvia Neid earned women’s coach of the year honors.
Barcelona also placed six players on the 11-man All-Star team announced by FIFA and the union FIFPro, with Messi, Xavi and Iniesta joined by defenders Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique, and forward David Villa, who transferred from Valencia just before the World Cup.
Also on the team were Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Castillas and forward Cristiano Ronaldo, and three Inter players: defenders Lucio and Maicon, and midfielder Wesley Sneijder.
The 23-year-old Messi helped Barcelona retain its Spanish league title. The Blaugrana lead the Spanish standings again this season.
“It’s a very special day for me,” Messi said through a translator.
The 23-year-old forward scored 58 goals in 54 games for the Catalan club in 2010 and had two in 10 matches with Argentina but failed to score for the Albiceleste at the World Cup. Iniesta and Xavi helped Spain win its first World Cup title, with Iniesta scoring the overtime goal in the 1-0 win over the Netherlands in the final.
“I didn’t expect to win it today,” Messi said. “Already it’s a source of happiness to be here with my friends and even more to win it.”
Messi won on the strength of the votes of national team coaches and captains, finishing first among both those groups. Sneijder received the highest percentage from the media, with Iniesta second, Xavi third and Messi fourth.
U.S. coach Bob Bradley and captain Carlos Bocanegra both voted Xavi first, with Bradley picking Sneijder second and Messi third. Bocanegra selected Iniesta second and Sneijder third. Soccer America’s Paul Kennedy, the only U.S. media voter, had Xavi first, followed by Messi and Sneijder.
Mourinho was voted FIFA men’s coach of the year after leading Inter Milan to the Champions League, Serie A and Italian Cup titles.
Mourinho, the self-dubbed “Special One,” received 35.92 percent and beat Spain coach Vicente del Bosque (33.08) and Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola (8.45) in the inaugural prize. The Portuguese coach left Inter after the 2009-10 season to become coach of Real Madrid.
“The most important things for me are the collective titles, not the individual ones,” Mourinho said.
Bradley selected Mourinho first, followed by Del Bosque and Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti, while Bocanegra had Guardiola first, followed by Mourinho and Del Bosque. Kennedy voted Del Bosque first, followed by Mourinho and Germany coach Joachim Loew.
Marta received 38.2 percent, beating out Germany’s Birgit Prinz (15.18) and Kosovo-born Lira Bajramaj (9.96). Marta was rewarded for her MVP season with the Gold Pride of the Women’s Professional Soccer league in the United States, which folded, The team, based in Santa Clara, Calif., folded in November.
“I’m looking at contracts for the league. For the time being I have nothing confirmed,” she said through a translator.
Neid, the coach of Germany’s national team, received 24.06 percent, finishing ahead of Maren Meinert of Germany’s world champion under-20 team (18.26) and U.S. women’s team coach Pia Sundhage (11.68).
Hamit Altintop won the Puskas Award for most beautiful goal in 2010 for his volleyed shot for Turkey against Kazakhstan in a 2012 European Championship qualifier. The Bayern Munich midfielder connected with a right-footed shot from yards after a left-flank corner had looped directly into his path.
The award is named after the late Hungarian and Real Madrid great Ferenc Puskas.
Haitian soccer received the FIFA fair play award for its recovery from an earthquake which devastated the Caribbean island last January.
The FIFA presidential award was made to Archbishop Desmond Tutu in recognition of South Africa’s organization of the World Cup.
2010 FIFA Golden Ball Voting
ZURICH (AP) – Voting announced Monday for the FIFA Golden Ball, given to the player of the year, with percentage of total votes coming from national team coaches and captains, and selected media, and total percentage:
Player Coach Captain Media Total
Lionel Messi, Argentina 9.72 8.55 4.38 22.65
Andres Iniesta, Spain 5.39 4.44 7.53 17.36
Xavi Hernandez, Spain 5.34 5.17 5.96 16.48
Wesley Sneijder, Netherlands 3.00 3.79 7.70 14.48
Diego Forlan, Uruguay 1.88 2.10 3.63 7.61
Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal 2.40 1.12 0.41 3.92
Iker Casillas, Spain 0.49 1.44 0.96 2.90
David Villa, Spain 0.76 0.54 0.94 2.25
Didier Drogba, Ivory Coast 0.60 1.03 0.05 1.68
Xabi Alonso, Spain 0.52 0.79 0.22 1.52
Carles Puyol, Spain 0.49 0.82 0.12 1.43
Samuel Eto’o, Cameroon 0.25 0.76 0.36 1.37
Mesut Oezil, Germany 0.41 0.49 0.31 1.21
Arjen Robben, Netherlands 0.33 0.54 0.29 1.16
Thomas Mueller, Germany 0.65 0.14 0.12 0.91
Bastian Schweinsteiger, Germany 0.16 0.52 0.07 0.75
Maicon, Brazil 0.27 0.30 0.00 0.57
Asamoah Gyan, Ghana 0.11 0.09 0.26 0.46
Julio Cesar, Brazil 0.11 0.11 0.00 0.22
Cesc Fabregas, Spain 0.03 0.19 0.00 0.22
Miroslav Klose, Germany 0.05 0.11 0.02 0.19
Daniel Alves, Brazil 0.00 0.05 0.00 0.05
Philipp Lahm, Germany 0.05 0.00 0.00 0.05
Invalid votes 0.33 0.24 0.00 0.57