Portugal loses out, USA gets a double win
José Mourinho and Cristiano Ronaldo shutout, Pia Sundhage and Abby Wambach are best in the world
For the fourth consecutive year, Argentina’s Lionel Messi was named the best player in the world, a record setting feat, while on the women’s side the U.S.’s
Abby Wambach claimed her first ever FIFA Ballon d’Or during the Gala held at the Zurich Kongresshaus on Monday.
The U.S. also won the award on the coaching category as U.S. national team coach Pia Sundhage was selected after guiding the U.S. to the gold medal in the 2012 London Olympics.
Vicente del Bosque, who led the Spanish national team to the 2012 Euro title, won on the men’s side.
For Portuguese fans the results were disappointing. Real Madrid striker Cristiano Ronaldo came in second despite leading his club to the La Liga title over heavy favorite FC Barcelona, Messi’s club team. But the Argentinian midfielder/forward set a new world scoring record by netting 91 goals during the 2012 season, and was the leading scorer in the UEFA Champions League with 14 goals.
Much has been made about the rivalry between these two players. In the press conference held prior to the announcement, they shook hands and smiled when first greeting each other to suggest that everything was OK.
“I don’t feel that I’m frustrated by Messi. He does his work for his team and so do I for mine,” Ronaldo said. “As far as I’m concerned, I don’t feel much rivalry, at least not personally. We’re here to win, we’re part of football and that’s what counts.”
But during his acceptance speech, Messi totally ignored his long time rival.
“To tell you the truth this is really quite unbelievable. The fourth award that I have had is just too great for words” Messi said. “I would like to recognize my other colleagues from Barcelona: Iniesta it has been great to train and play alongside you. I would also like to recognize all of my friends in the Argentinian national team. Everyone that has worked with me coaches and staff and my family and my friends. Also my wife and my son. Thank you.”
The winners were determined through a vote by the captains and coaches of all national teams affiliated with FIFA, in addition to some journalists selected by FIFA.
Messi received 41,6% of the votes, Cristiano Ronaldo came in second, with 23,68%, while Andrés Iniesta (10,91%) was a distant third.
Ronaldo had already expected the outcome and prior to the announcement indicated that “I have a clear conscience; I must say this award is not the end of world. Life goes on and we have to learn from our lessons – if others win then that’s fine.
“With regards to what I have done in the last year, I think things went well, we won the league. Regardless of what happens today, I’m going to be the same man that I’ve been so far.”
Returns with a hat-trick
If he was actually disappointed with the outcome in the awards ceremony, Ronaldo did not let that affect his performance on the pitch as he netted a hat-trick in his first post award game, to help Real Madrid turn around a 1-2 deficit with a 4-0 second-leg win over Celta in a Copa Del Rey match on Wednesday night.
He also added the assist as Sami Khedira closed out the scoring.
Climbs to seventh on all-time scoring list
Although he is only in his fourth season with Real Madrid, Ronaldo climbed to seventh place in the all-time scoring list of the storied club, as his three goals against Celta allowed him to surpass Pirri and move within eight of club legend Gento.
Last weekend’s two goals, against Real Sociedad, had allowed him catch Emilio Butragueño. But while Ronaldo has registered an incredible 174 goals in only 172 games, a mind boggling average of more than one goal per game, Butragueño played for 12 seasons and needed 463 games to net his 171 goals.
Mourinho stays away
José Mourinho, one of the three finalists for coach of the year, elected to skip the gala, explaining that he was too busy preparing his team for the crucial match against Celta.
But the Portuguese press suggested otherwise. They wrote that Mourinho was furious with FIFA because he felt that the body’s Vice-President, Angel Villar, who just happens to be Spanish, lobbied heavily for both Messi and Del Bosque.
He was particularly upset that Pep Guardiola was nominated and in reality it seems ludicrous that FIFA would select Guardiola as a finalist since he failed to lead heavily favored Barcelona to the title, which Mourinho won with Real, and then walked away from coaching in May. Thus, Guardiola had no titles no show, worked only five months, a rather curious decision by FIFA.
Also, many question how a national team coach can win this award, since he was only active for a few months and Del Bosque coached a team that was favored to win anyway.