Lionel Messi Awarded Fourth Consecutive Ballon D'Or
Argentina’s LIONEL MESSI collected a record-breaking fourth consecutive title of best player in the world when he was awarded the FIFA Ballon d’Or, while U.S. player ABBY WAMBACH claimed her first FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year award at the FIFA Ballon d’Or Gala held at the Zürich, Switzerland Kongresshaus Monday evening. Spanish national team coach VICENTE DEL BOSQUE and Sweden women’s national team coach PIA SUNDHAGE were the winners of the FIFA World Coach of the Year awards for men’s and women’s football. Messi received 41.6% of the votes, ahead of CRISTIANO RONALDO (23.7%) and ANDRES INIESTA (10.9%). Wambach collected 20.7% of the votes, ahead of Brazil’s MARTA and U.S. player ALEX MORGAN, who received 13.5% and 10.9%, respectively. World players’ union FIFPro invited 50,000 professional players from all over the world to select their best team of '12, the FIFA FIFPro World XI. The honors went to the following all-star squad: IKER CASILLAS (Spain) in goal; DANI ALVES (Brazil), MARCELO (Brazil), GERARD PIQUE (Spain) and SERGIO RAMOS (Spain) on defense; XABI ALONSO (Spain), ANDRES INIESTA (Spain) and XAVI HERNANDEZ (Spain) in midfield; and CRISTIANO RONALDO (Portugal), RADAMEL FALCAO (Colombia) and LIONEL MESSI (Argentina) at forward (FIFA).
PRAISE FROM THE PRESS: In Madrid, Ramiro Aldunate wrote under the headline "Messi, the best in history" that Messi won his fourth consecutive Ballon d'Or, "which does not leave any doubt over his dominance in world football." It appears that "the only person that can stop Messi is himself." He has now surpassed football greats JOHAN CRUYFF, MARCO VAN BASTEN and MICHEL PLATINI, who all had three Ballon d'Or awards to their names (MARCA, 1/7). EUROSPORT wrote Messi "broke GERD MÜLLER's 40-year-old record for most goals in a calendar year." Messi scored 91 goals in '12, which is six more than Müller did in '72. Former FC Barcelona coach PEP GUARDIOLA said, "He doesn't only score a lot of goals, but many outstanding goals. Each new one is more impressive than the previous one. I feel sorry for those who want to dethrone him -- it is impossible" (EUROSPORT, 1/7).