Cristiano Ronaldo Wins Ballon d'Or as Soccer Player of the Year
Portuguese soccer superstar Cristiano Ronaldo was named the best player in the world Monday night, claiming the Ballon d'Or award for the second time in his career.
The striker, who plays for Spain's Real Madrid, accepted his trophy at an awards ceremony in Zurich hosted by world soccer governing body FIFA. Ronaldo beat out Argentine player Lionel Messi and French midfielder Franck Ribery for the prize, voted on by national team coaches and captains as well as by the international media representatives selected by FIFA and French football magazine France Football.
The prize, now in its fourth year, is considered an Oscar of sorts for international soccer.
Ronaldo, who scored an astounding 69 goals in all competitions in the 2013 calendar year, had tears in his eyes when he took the stage to accept his award. FIFA revealed Ronaldo received 1,365 votes, or around 37 percent of the total cast, ahead of Messi with 1,205 and Ribery with 1,127.
German soccer fans scored a hat trick of sorts at this year's Ballon d'Or with German goalkeeper Nadine Angerer taking the prize for top female player of the year. Bayern Munich coach Jupp Heynckes, who won the Champions League as well as Germany's Bundesliga and German Cup tournaments last year, won best male coach and Silvia Neid of the German woman's team won best female coach.
Swedish soccer star Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who was not nominated for the main Ballon d'Or prize and will not compete in this summer's soccer World Cup in Brazil, at least came away with one trophy: that for “most beautiful goal” of the year, as voted on by soccer fans on YouTube, FIFA.com and francefootball.fr. They honored his acrobatic long-range bicycle kick that scored in a friendly between Sweden and England back in late 2012.
The Ballon d'Or ceremony was a glitzy affair, with Oscar-style red carpet coverage and live streaming on FIFA.com. The event comes as FIFA are under fire in some quarters for their plans to move the 2022 World Cup in Qatar from the summer to the winter months, placing the tournament smack in the middle of various national leagues, including the NFL and most European professional soccer tournaments.