The United States’ World Cup icon Megan Rapinoe has won the FIFA Women’s Player of the Year award with Argentine football superstar Lionel Messi bagging the coveted prize in men’s category.
Rapinoe, who led the U.S. women’s soccer team to a record fourth victory in the women’s World Cup football, was rewarded for her stellar performance at a star-studded ceremony held at the La Scala opera house in Milan.
Jill Elis, who trained the triumphant Stars and Stripes team, won the Best FIFA Women’s Coach award.
The U.S. national team retained the World Cup title beating Netherlands 2-0 in the final held in Lyon, France, in July.
“The World Cup really was a showcase, the world fell even more in love with the game,” said 53-year-old Ellis, who will quit coaching next month.
Rapinoe had sparked controversy by turning down President Donald Trump’s invitation to the champions to visit the White House.
Rapinoe, who is one of five lesbian players in the USWNT, also spoke boldly against the Trump administration’s gender disparity policy in a CNN interview.
The 34-year-old midfielder won the Golden Boot for scoring the most goals at the World Cup, and the Golden Ball for the best player.
Lionel Messi was a surprise winner over favorites like Cristiano Ronaldo and Virgil Van Dijk.
Germany’s Jurgen Klopp took home the honor for the Best Men’s Coach, while Brazil’s Alisson picked up the Best Men’s Goalkeeper award.
Dutch player Sari van Veenendaal was named the inaugural Best Women’s Goalkeeper.
A panel of FIFA Legends chose Daniel Zsori’s remarkable overhead kick as a worthy goal of the year.
Leeds United and its Argentinean coach Marcelo Bielsa were honored with the FIFA Fair Play Award. “Bielsa and his team ultimately sacrificed promotion for his team to uphold the values of fair play – instructing his Leeds United team to allow an equalizer after his side had gone 1-0 up with an opposition player down injured,” FIFA said in a statement.
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