Sport Desk: Cristiano Ronaldo won FIFA’s Best Men’s Player for 2016 beating his old rival Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann to claim the prize in Zurich on Monday.
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. Messi was second in the vote and Frenchman Antoine Griezmann third.
Ronaldo, who picked up his fourth Ballon d’Or in December, also landed the first separate FIFA prize since world football’s governing body and France Football announced in September that they would be presenting two separate awards.
“2016 was the best year of my career,” Ronaldo said after being handed the prize from FIFA President Gianni Infantino. “It was a year that was magnificent at a personal level and at a sports level.”
Ranieri, 65, who saw off Real boss Zinedine Zidane and Portugal manager Fernando Santos, said the best coach honour was “incredible” after receiving the prize from Argentine football legend Diego Maradona.
Under Ranieri’s leadership, Leicester pulled off one of the greatest shocks in English football history by defying title odds of 5,000-1 to lift the Premier League trophy last season.
Having miraculously avoided relegation the previous season, the Foxes rode that wave of momentum all the way to the title.
US midfielder Carli Lloyd scooped the best women’s player of 2016, the two-time Olympic gold medallist adding to her 2015 FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year accolade.
The American finished ahead of Brazilian star Marta and Germany’s Melanie Behringer.
Spain’s La Liga accounted for nine of the 11 players in the FIFPro team of the year with Ronaldo and Messi headlining a star-studded line-up.
“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.
He also won the old FIFA award once in 2008 and also in 2013 and 2014 when it was organised jointly with France Football magazine.