Football: Ronaldo 'shut up' critics with inaugural Fifa accolade

Real Madrid and Portugal's forward Cristiano Ronaldo stands next to his trophy after winning the The Best Fifa Men’s Player of 2016 Award during The Best Fifa Football Awards ceremony, on Jan 9, 2017 in Zurich.
Real Madrid and Portugal's forward Cristiano Ronaldo stands next to his trophy after winning the The Best Fifa Men’s Player of 2016 Award during The Best Fifa Football Awards ceremony, on Jan 9, 2017 in Zurich. PHOTO: AFP

ZURICH • Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo claims he had to overcome media "campaigns" against him to be named Fifa's best male footballer of 2016.

He lifted the inaugural award at a star-studded ceremony in Zurich on Monday, after a glittering year on the pitch saw him lead Real to Champions League glory and captain Portugal to their first-ever major international triumph at Euro 2016.

However, his year was blighted by reports from an international consortium of media organisations last month that claimed a huge data leak involving 18 million documents showed the Portuguese hid €150 million (S$228.11 million) from image rights in the British Virgin Islands.

Ronaldo, 31, has strongly denied all claims of wrongdoing.

"There were many doubts, many campaigns against me from inside and outside football," he told Spanish radio station COPE. "They wanted to hit me from all sides and the truth is the best was the best and that is me, so I am very happy.

"As always, I have shut up a few mouths once again."

  • BEST FIFA AWARDS 2016

  • BEST FIFA MEN'S PLAYER:
    Cristiano Ronaldo
    (Portugal, Real Madrid)
    - 34.54 per cent of votes

  • BEST FIFA WOMEN'S PLAYER:
    Carli Lloyd
    (United States, Houston Dash)
    - 20.68 per cent of total votes

  • BEST FIFA MEN'S COACH:
    Claudio Ranieri (Leicester City)
    - 22.6 per cent of total votes

  • BEST FIFA WOMEN'S COACH:
    Silvia Neid (Germany)
    - 29.99 per cent of total votes

  • FIFA PUSKAS AWARD :
    Mohd Faiz Subri (Penang)
    - 59.46 per cent of total votes

  • FIFA FAN AWARD:

    Borussia Dortmund and
    Liverpool supporters
    - 45.92 per cent of total votes

  • FIFA FAIR PLAY AWARD:
    Atletico National (Colombia)

He edged out arch-rival Lionel Messi for the trophy as well as France's Antoine Griezmann, the top player at the summer's European Championship.

Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri received the Best Men's Coach award, following his side's fairy-tale Premier League triumph.

The 65-year-old, who saw off Real boss Zinedine Zidane and Portugal coach Fernando Santos, said the honour was "incredible" after receiving the prize from Argentine legend Diego Maradona.

"What happened last season in England was something strange - the God of football said Leicester must win," the Italian added.

The prizes were based on a combined voting process involving national team coaches and captains, a select group of journalists and fans.

Ronaldo took 34.54 per cent of the vote over 26.42 per cent to Messi, who skipped the awards show along with three Barcelona team-mates - Gerard Pique, Andres Iniesta and Luis Suarez.

The Spanish club issued a statement saying that they would not travel to Zurich for the awards as they had to prepare for a Copa del Rey match against Athletic Bilbao today.

However, there was speculation that Barcelona's decision was made because the best player award was given to Ronaldo rather than Messi.

US midfielder Carli Lloyd was named the best women's player of 2016, the two-time Olympic gold medallist adding to her 2015 Fifa Women's World Player of the Year accolade.

Spain's Primera Liga accounted for nine of the 11 players in the FIFPro team of the year, with Ronaldo and Messi headlining a star-studded line-up.

Fifa also gave a fair play prize to the Colombian side Atletico Nacional and a fan award to Borussia Dortmund and Liverpool supporters.

World football's governing body launched the new award series after ending its six-year collaboration with France Football magazine for the Ballon d'Or. The change is one of many implemented under Gianni Infantino, who took over Fifa's helm last year, pledging to lead it away from the scandals that dominated the end of Sepp Blatter's tenure.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS, THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 11, 2017, with the headline 'Ronaldo 'shut up' critics with inaugural Fifa accolade'. Print Edition | Subscribe