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Lionel Messi is rejoicing after being crowned the Ballon d’Or champion for the eighth time, further solidifying his record as the world’s top player.
After joining MLS team Inter Miami, the 36-year-old was expected to easily win another prestigious award, given his previous success with Argentina in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
Aitana Bonmati took over from Alexia Putellas as the recipient of the Ballon d’Or Feminin, the top award for women’s soccer. She was a standout player for Spain in their victorious Women’s World Cup campaign and also played a crucial role in Barcelona’s impressive 2022/23 season, including their comeback win in the Champions League final.
One English player, Jude Bellingham, was awarded the Kopa Trophy at the event. This trophy recognizes the best young player in the world and has previously been won by Kylian Mbappe in 2018 and Barcelona’s Gavi in the last edition.
Vinicius Jr was awarded the Socrates award for his commendable humanitarian efforts, placing him at the top of the list of additional accolades for the evening.
Given the opportunity by co-host Didier Drogba to deliver a powerful statement, he emphasized the significance of unity and fighting against racism in football. He expressed gratitude towards the fellow players who have aided in this ongoing battle. Drogba made it clear that Vinicius, who has once again faced accusations of racial discrimination during a LaLiga game in Spain, is not alone in this fight to eliminate such behavior from the sport.
The award for the top goalkeeper, the Yashin Trophy, was given to Emiliano Martinez from Argentina and Aston Villa. Martinez, who was also part of the World Cup winning team in Qatar, surpassed other contenders including Yassine Bounou from Morocco and Ederson from Manchester City.
The award for Club of the Year was given to FC Barcelona for their women’s team, Barcelona Femini, and their successful accomplishments last season of winning both the domestic league and Champions League. In addition, Man City was awarded the men’s award for their treble victory during the 2022/23 season.
Erling Haaland was awarded the Gerd Muller Trophy for being the top scorer with a total of 56 goals for both his club and his country, narrowly beating out Kylian Mbappe.
In the larger group of candidates for the top honors, Mohamed Salah from Liverpool was placed 11th, followed by England’s captain Harry Kane at 19th and Arsenal’s emerging talent Bukayo Saka at 24th. Messi surpassed Haaland and Kylian Mbappe to claim the first place.
For the Feminin award, Mary Earps came highest among the Lionesses, placing fifth overall. Rachel Daly was tenth and captain Millie Bright was one place further back. Second and third for the women’s were Sam Kerr and Salma Paralluelo respectively.