World Cup champion Lionel Messi once again edged out Kylian Mbappé, this time to win the 2022 FIFA Men’s Player of the Year award on Monday.
The best female player was Spain’s Alexia Putellas for the second consecutive year.
After leading Argentina to World Cup glory in an epic final against Mbappé’s France in Qatar, Messi won the best player vote ahead of Mbappé and compatriot Karim Benzema, securing the FIFA award for the seventh time in 14 years Messi became the first player, male or female, to win seven FIFA best player awards, breaking the tie with Brazil’s six-time best women’s player, Marta.
He won the World Cup in his record fifth attempt.
“It was a crazy year for me,” Messi said. “I could fulfill mine [World Cup] dream after fighting for it for so long. And in the end it happened, and it was the most beautiful thing in my career. It’s every player’s dream, but very few can achieve it, so I’m grateful to God that I can do it.”
The three players were part of the final list voted by a global panel of national team captains and coaches, selected journalists in each of FIFA’s 211 member countries, as well as online fans.
Messi, 35, also beat Mbappé, who was seeking his first FIFA best player award, for the Ballon d’Or trophy, awarded by FIFA to the best player at the World Cup. Mbappé won the Golden Boot as top scorer.
In the FIFA Awards voting, Messi scored 52 points, Mbappé 44 and Benzema 34.
Mbappé, 11 years younger than Messi at 24 and considered Messi’s heir apparent on the world stage, made the three-man list for the first time. He was fourth in the voting for the 2018 award, the year he led France to the World Cup title.
Real Madrid star Benzema won the most prestigious Ballon d’Or in October ahead of the World Cup. The French striker missed the tournament due to injury. Messi was not part of the long list of Ballon d’Or candidates announced in August.
Robert Lewandowski won the FIFA award the last two years, and Cristiano Ronaldo was left out of the 14-man shortlist for the award this year for the first time.
Messi broke a record he shared with Ronaldo by making the men’s world XI for the 16th time. The team included Belgium’s Thibaut Courtois, Morocco’s Achraf Hakimi, Portugal’s João Cancelo, Holland’s Virgil van Dijk, Belgium’s Kevin de Bruyne, Croatia’s Luka Modric, Brazil’s Casemiro, Norway’s Erling Haaland and France’s Mbappé and Benzema
Messi voted for Neymar, his club-mate at Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain, as the best player. Only Brazilian captain Thiago Silva has also voted for Neymar.
Russia’s coach and captain were not banned from voting on the award despite Russia’s national and club teams being banned from FIFA and UEFA competitions from February 2022 in response to the invasion of Ukraine by the country.
Putellas won her award from Alex Morgan of the United States and Beth Mead, who led England to the 2022 European Championship title.
Barcelona player Putellas returned to the top three despite being injured days before the Euros and missing the tournament. Last season he scored 34 goals in all competitions.
Mead was joint top scorer at the Euros and was named best player of the tournament. She suffered a serious knee injury in November while playing for Arsenal and could miss the Women’s World Cup in July.
Morgan, who finished second in the 2019 voting to teammate Megan Rapinoe, was player of the tournament when the United States won the CONCACAF W Championship last year. She was also joint top scorer.
Earlier, Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni was named FIFA Men’s Coach of the Year after leading his side to the World Cup title in December.
The women’s manager award went to Sarina Wiegman, who led England to the title at the European Women’s Championship.
Scaloni took charge of Argentina at the end of 2018 on an interim basis, and was widely criticized for his lack of experience, having never coached a professional team. Earlier on Monday, his contract as coach of the national team was extended until the end of the 2026 World Cup.
The other managers on the final list were Carlo Ancelotti of Real Madrid and Pep Guardiola of Manchester City.
The women’s goalkeeper award was awarded to England’s European Championship winner Mary Earps, and the best men’s goalkeeper was Argentina’s World Cup winner Emiliano Martínez.
The event in Paris was marked by tributes to Pelé, who died at the end of last year aged 82 after a battle with colon cancer. Pelé’s wife, Marcia Aoki, received a trophy in tribute to the great footballer from former Brazilian striker Ronaldo.
“I have three words to say to God, who gave us Edson; to Edson, who gave us Pelé; and to the world, which received them so well: grateful, grateful and grateful,” he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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