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Ronaldo, Marta scoop FIFA’s world player awards
Published on 13 Jan. 2009 11:46 PM IST
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Manchester United and Portugal Cristiano Ronaldo and Brazil’s Marta received the FIFA’s world player of the year awards Monday in Zurich, Switzerland. Ronaldo, who is also holder of the prestigious Ballon d’Or for the European Footballer of the Year, beat off competition from 2007 winner Kaka (Brazil), Lionel Messi (Argentina), Fernando Torres (Spain) and Xavi (Spain). “It’s an overwhelming moment in my career and I’d like to dedicate this award to my family, friends and colleagues,” he said. Ronaldo went out of his way to heap praise on United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, with whom relations became strained during last summer over whether he was going to leave the club for Real Madrid. “It’s also true that the manager always has an important role to play,” said Ronaldo. “It was a great season for me and for my club, and the coach was important for me because I learned a lot from him. His experience over so many years is of paramount importance - it’s a privilege to have such a great club manager. This is the climax of a fantastic era for me. I’m happy and proud about what has been done by my team and what we have won. I am lucky to be part of the history of a club like Manchester United.” The 23-year-old, scorer of 42 goals in all competitions in the 2007-8 season, was one of United’s architects behind the club’s English Premiership and Champions League double. It was not a perfectly scripted year for Ronaldo, however, as Portugal crashed out 3-2 to Germany in the quarter-final of Euro 2008 in June. Ronaldo becomes the second Portuguese player to win the FIFA accolade after Luis Figo in 2001, and the first one playing for a British club. He reaped 935 points in the vote in which the coaches and captains of 155 national teams took part. Messi finished second (678 points) and was trailed by Torres (203), Kaka (183) and Xavi (155). Brazilian midfielder Marta was unveiled as FIFA World Women’s Footballer of the year for 2008, for the third year running. Marta delivered an outstanding performance at the women’s Olympic football tournament in Beijing 2008, and equalled the record set by Birgit Prinz by claiming her third consecutive title. It was a record-tying third award for Marta, a 21-year-old midfielder who led Brazil to a silver medal at the Beijing Olympics last year. She also plays for Sweden’s Umea IK. For the women’s vote, 139 coaches and captains cast their vote and Marta won comfortably (1,002 points) ahead of Germany’s Prinz (328), Brazil’s Cristiane (275), Germany’s Nadine Angerer (198) and England’s Kelly Smith (150). Fair Play for Armenia, Turkey The FIFA Fair Play Award for 2008 has gone to the Football Associations of Armenia and Turkey for their part in encouraging dialogue between two countries which otherwise do not have any form of diplomatic relationship. On September 6, 2008 the President of Turkey, Abdula Gul, spent eight hours in Yerevan, on the invitation of Armenian President Serzh Sargsian, in order to attend the two countries’ encounter in a qualifier for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa. French President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose country was holding the EU Presidency at the time, dubbed the meeting a “historic and brave initiative”. The visit was also heartily applauded by the international press, while 70 per cent of the Turkish public expressed their approval in opinion polls. As a result, sport, and more specifically football, has helped alleviate a situation where traditional diplomacy had failed since 1991, the year Armenia gained independence. Indeed, President Gul’s trip was backed by nearly two-thirds of the Turkish population, according to a poll carried out by the research centre MetroPOLL, who found that six out of ten members of the Turkish public were in favour of re-establishing diplomatic relations between the two countries. As for the match itself, 10,000 fans were in the stands to witness this historic encounter first-hand. Visitors Turkey came through to win the game 2-0, but more importantly the match passed by without crowd trouble. The Turkish President announced that he did not wish the dispute between the two nations to be part of his legacy for future generations. President Gul also invited his Armenian counterpart to attend the FIFA World Cup qualifying match between the two sides in Istanbul on October 14, 2009. It is also worth noting that two other meetings between nations that do not currently enjoy diplomatic relations took place on 6 September 2008, both of which were also part of the South Africa 2010 preliminary phase. These were Cuba-United States in the North, Central America and Caribbean Zone and Sudan-Chad in the African Zone, two further examples of how decisive a diplomatic role football can play. The award was presented by UEFA President and FIFA Executive Committee member Michel Platini and his fellow FIFA Executive Committee member Senes Erzik. FIFA gives award to Palestinian football body ZURICH, Switzerland (AP) — FIFA gave a special award to the Palestine Football Association Monday for bringing international football to the West Bank. Football’s world governing body gave its first annual Development Award to the PFA for opening the Al-Husseini stadium on the West Bank. The 6,000-capacity arena in Ram staged its first international match, a 1-1 draw between Palestine and Jordan, on Oct. 26 after being renovated with FIFA’s support. The Palestinian national team has been affiliated with FIFA since 1998 but had previously played home matches abroad in countries like Jordan and Qatar. The award was presented by FIFA president Sepp Blatter to a PFA delegation during the annual World Player Gala at the Zurich Opera House.

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