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Lionel Messi is rejoicing over being declared the winner of the Ballon d’Or for the eighth time, further solidifying his record for being recognized as the top player in the world.
After joining MLS’s Inter Miami, the 36-year-old was widely expected to win another prestigious award following Argentina’s victory in the World Cup in Qatar last year.
Aitana Bonmati succeeded Alexia Putellas as winner of the women’s award, the Ballon d’Or Feminin. The midfielder starred for Spain during the Women’s World Cup win, as well as playing a key part in Barcelona’s incredible 2022/23 season which included a Champions League final comeback win.
Jude Bellingham, representing England, received the Kopa Trophy, awarded to the top young player in the world. Past recipients have included Kylian Mbappe in 2018 and Barcelona’s Gavi most recently.
At the top of the list of extra accolades presented that evening, Vinicius Jr was honored with the Socrates award for his humanitarian endeavors.
Given the opportunity by co-host Didier Drogba to deliver a powerful statement, he emphasized the importance of unity and standing against racism in football. He expressed gratitude towards the great players present for their support in this ongoing fight. Drogba reassured Vinicius, who was once again subjected to racist abuse during a LaLiga match in Spain, that he is not alone in the fight against such behavior in the sport.
The accolade for the top goalkeeper, the Yashin Trophy, was awarded to Emiliano Martinez of Argentina and Aston Villa. Martinez, a World Cup champion in Qatar, emerged victorious over contenders such as Yassine Bounou of Morocco and Ederson of Manchester City.
The Club of the Year recognition was given to FC Barcelona for their women’s team, Barcelona Femini, and their successful performance last season in winning both the domestic league and Champions League titles. Man City received the men’s award for completing a treble in the 2022/23 season.
Erling Haaland received the Gerd Muller Trophy for scoring the most goals (56) for both his club and country, narrowly beating out Kylian Mbappe.
In the wider list of nominees for the main awards, Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah ranked 11th, England captain Harry Kane 19th and Arsenal starlet Bukayo Saka came in 24th. Messi beat Haaland and Kylian Mbappe on the final podium.
Mary Earps received the highest recognition among the Lionesses for the Feminin award, ranking fifth overall. Rachel Daly placed tenth and captain Millie Bright was one spot behind. The second and third spots for the women’s award went to Sam Kerr and Salma Paralluelo, respectively.