(WFI) Lionel Messi makes history as the first four-time winner of FIFA’s Ballon d’Or.
Lionel Messi and Abby Wambach (Getty)
After smashing the record for goals scored in a calendar year with 91, the FC Barcelona forward beat out Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal and Andres Iniesta of Spain with 41.6 percent of the vote.
This was the Argentine’s fourth consecutive World Player of the Year and third since FIFA merged the award with France Football’s historic Ballon d’Or, given annually to the top European footballer.
On the women’s side, forward Abby Wambach won her first World Player of the Year with 20.67 percent of the vote, edging teammate Alex Morgan from USA’s gold-medal winning Olympics squad as well as Marta, the five-time winner from Brazil.
Spain’s Euro 2012 winning Vicente Del Bosque and USA’s Pia Sundhage were the men’s and women’s coaches of the year.
The honors were decided by a poll of national team captains and head coaches, then presented Monday night in Zurich at an awards gala attended by football’s biggest stars.
Journalists selected by France Football also joined in the voting, meaning the captains, coaches and media each accounted for one-third of the final result.
Players also got a say in Monday’s awards. The FIFA/FIFPro World XI is a dream team chosen by more than 50,000 pros worldwide and meant to honor 2012’s 11 best players.
The squad consists of Iker Casillas (Spain) in goal; Dani Alves (Brazil), Marcelo (Brazil), Gerard Piqué (Spain) and Sergio Ramos (Spain) in defence; Xabi Alonso (Spain), Iniesta (Spain) and Xavi Hernández (Spain) in midfield; and Ronaldo (Portugal), Radamel Falcao (Colombia) and Messi (Argentina) up front.
Also Monday, Slovakian striker Miroslav Stoch received the FIFA Puskás Award for most beautiful goal of the year, the Uzbekistan Football Federation won the FIFA Fair Play Award and Franz Beckenbauer took home the FIFA Presidential Award “in recognition of his extraordinary achievements and record of service” to world football.
By INSIDER’s Matthew Grayson
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