Philly Sports Live

FIFA Ballon d’Or 2012

Ballon d'Or Winners

As the world’s greatest in soccer descended upon Zurich, Switzerland today for the annual FIFA Ballon d’Or Awards, speculation remained as to who would walk away with the honors. With greats like Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Andres Iniesta all vying for the title of FIFA Player of the Year and Abby Wambach, Marta, and Alex Morgan looking to take home the title of FIFA Women’s Player of the Year.

Not only were the players here to be honored, but coaches were among those receiving honors as well. Looking for top honors among the coaches, Vincente del Bosque (Spain head coach), Pep Guardiola (former FC Barcelona coach) and Jose Mourinho (Real Madrid head coach), were all nominated for FIFA World Coach of the Year for Men’s Football in 2012. Not to forget the women’s game, Pia Sundhage (former US Women’s National Team coach), Bruno Bini (France Women’s National Team), and Norio Sasaki (Japan Women’s National Team) were all nominated for FIFA World Coach of the Year for Women’s Football.

The FIFA Player of the Year for the men went to no other than Lionel Messi. Messi captured a record-breaking fourth straight title in 2012 as he beat out Cristiano Ronaldo and Andres Iniesta to capture the honors with 41.6% of the overall votes. Lionel Messi scored 91 goals in 2012, breaking Gerd Muller’s record of 85 goals in a calendar year. The FIFA World Coach of the Year for Men’s Football was awarded to Vincente del Bosque. Del Bosque lead Spain to the EURO 2012 title which was held in Poland and Ukraine this past summer, beating out Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola for top honors.

Many considered 2012 to be a defining year in women’s soccer, especially in the United States. With the US Women seeking redemption after the heartbreaking Women’s World Cup loss in 2011, walking away with a Gold Medal from the London Olympics was a good start to a perfect ending. The FIFA World Coach of the Year for the women went to former US Women’s National Team coach Pia Sundhage. Sundhage, who left the US to return to her native Sweden in September, was honored for her achievements with the US Women’s National Team. In typical Sundhage fashion when accepting the award, she serenaded former players Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan along with the rest of the US Women’s team with a song. Pia left the US Women as the second most successful coach in the programs history.

As if the evening could not get any better for the US Women, the FIFA Women’s Player of the Year for women went to forward Abby Wambach. Wambach helped lead the US Women to gold in London while also capturing the Adidas Golden Ball for best player in women’s soccer at the Olympics, as well as the Adidas Golden Boot for her five goals during the London games. This is the first FIFA Women’s Player of the Year honors for Wambach who finished with 20.67% of the total vote. Abby finished 2012 only six career international goals behind US Women’s Soccer legend Mia Hamm with 152 so far in her career. She will be starting down the down the path of setting the new international goal record in February when the US Women face off against Scotland with new head coach Tom Sermanni at the helm.

The FIFA/FIFPro World XI were also announced this evening with the honors going to the following players: Iker Casillas (Goalkeeper, Spain), Dani Alves (Defender, Brazil), Marcelo (Defender, Brazil), Gerard Pique (Defender, Spain), Sergio Ramos (Defender, Spain), Andres Iniesta (Midfielder, Spain), Xabi Alonso (Midfielder, Spain), Xabi Hernandez (Midfielder, Spain), Cristiano Ronaldo (Forward, Portugal), Radamel Falcao (Forward, Colombia) and Lionel Messi (Forward, Argentina). The FIFA Puskas Award for best goal of 2012 went to Miroslav Stoch for a volleyed goal that he scored for club team Fenerbahce against Genclerbirligi in the Turkish Super Lig, which is the top-flight league in Turkey.

This certainly was a wonderful night for the beautiful game of soccer around the world, but for the US Women, this was a night that they won’t forget for some time.