|Real Madrid and Portugal’s forward Cristiano Ronaldo kisses his trophy after winning the The Best FIFA Men’s Player of 2016 Award next to FIFA president Gianni Infantino during The Best FIFA Football Awards ceremony, on Monday. — AFP/VNA Photo
ZURICH — Cristiano Ronaldo claimed FIFA’s inaugural best player of the year award on Monday, the latest prize for the Real Madrid and Portugal star after a glittering 2016 for club and country.
But the night again belonged to the 31-year-old Ronaldo, who edged out long-time nemesis Lionel Messi for the trophy as well as
Ronaldo had already won the Ballon d’Or after his third Champions League title, thanks largely to his 16 goals in 12 games, as well as triumphing with
"2016 was the best year of my career," Ronaldo said after being handed the prize from FIFA President Gianni Infantino.
Ranieri, 65, who saw off Real boss Zinedine Zidane and
Under Ranieri’s leadership,
Having miraculously avoided relegation the previous season, the Foxes rode that wave of momentum all the way to the title.
The prizes were based on a combined voting process involving national team coaches and captains, a select group of journalists and fans.
Ronaldo took 34.5 per cent of the vote over 26.4 percent to Messi, who skipped the awards show co-hosted by
The American finished ahead of Brazilian star Marta and
She described 2016 as "bittersweet", with the
Ronaldo was joined by Real team-mates Sergio Ramos, Marcelo, Toni Kroos and uka Modric while the side comprised four
Bayern Munich goalkeeper Manuel Neuer - named to the FIFPro World 11 for the fourth year running -- was the only player selected without links to
Juventus defender Dani Alves was included for a sixth time having helped Barca to a league and cup double before leaving the Camp Nou for Italy last June.
FIFA also gave a fair play prize to the Colombian side Atletico Nacional.
The team had asked
World football’s governing body launched the new award series after ending its six-year collaboration with France Football magazine for the Ballon d’Or.
The change is one of many implemented under Infantino, who took over FIFA last year pledging to lead it away from the scandals that dominated the end of Sepp Blatter’s tenure.
Speaking on the so-called "green carpet" outside the
"After everything that was taken away from football, everything that was tainted by corruption, to see new people, new faces, that provides me with hope," Maradona said.
But the first 11 months of Infantino’s administration have had their troubles, including massive and often contentious FIFA staff overhauls and an ethics probe that ultimately cleared Infantino of abusing his office.
Infantino’s biggest test to date is set for Tuesday, when FIFA’s powerful governing council will decide whether to back his controversial push to expand the World Cup to 48 teams from its current 32-nation format. — AFP