Once again the two best male football players in the world — Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Argentina’s Lionel Messi — battled it out for FIFA’s end-of-the-year individual honor.
On Monday, the 31-year-old Ronaldo was named the Best FIFA Men’s Player of 2016, beating Messi and France’s Antoine Griezmann on the three-man shortlist in a ceremony in Zurich. American Carli Lloyd was given the Best FIFA Women’s Player Award.
The honor is Ronaldo’s fourth FIFA player of the year award and first since France Football’s Ballon d’Or award ended its six-year association with FIFA to name the world’s best soccer player. Ronaldo, a star forward for Real Madrid, won his fourth Ballon d’Or in December.
“I’d like to thank my team, national team, Real Madrid, my trainer, my family that came here, my son, my brothers,” Ronaldo said at the ceremony (via FIFA.com), “2016 was the best year of my career, the trophy shows that people aren’t blind and watch the games. With everything I won with my national team and club, with great individual performance, I can’t forget this incredible year. Thanks for voting for me.”
Ronaldo has now been named the FIFA Player of the Year four times (2008, 2013, 2014 and 2016), trailing only Messi’s five (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2015).
Ronaldo earned 34.54 percent of the total voting points of the 23-candidate ballot, while Messi finished second with 26.42 percent. Third-place Griezmann received 7.53 percent.
The FIFA award is calculated from votes by national team captains, managers, journalists and fans voting online for a player’s performance from Nov. 20, 2015 to Nov. 22, 2016.
According to ESPN, Ronaldo scored 61 goals and registered 20 assists in 60 games for his club and for the Portugal national team (48 goals in 47 games for Real Madrid; 13 in 13 games for Portugal) during that span. He was also crowned a champion with Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League and led Portugal to its first European Championship title.
Like Ronaldo, Lloyd has now picked up multiple FIFA player of the year honors after winning it in 2015. She won 20.68 percent of the total votes, beating Brazil’s Marta (16.6 percent) and Germany’s Melanie Behringer (12.34 percent).
The honor even caught Lloyd by surprise.
“I honestly wasn’t expecting this,” she said (via FIFA.com). “I wouldn’t be standing up here without the help of teammates, coaching staff and support staff. I want to thank Jill Ellis for believing in me and really helping to evolve my game. I am someone who wants to continue to get better, as if I’m better, my team is better.”