Messi edges Haaland in tiebreaker for FIFA’s best men’s player award. Bonmatí takes women’s prize

LONDON — Lionel Messi landed another prestigious award in soccer — barely.

The Argentina star needed a tiebreaker with Erling Haaland to win FIFA’s best men’s player prize on Monday.


He has national team captains to thank.

The voting breakdown showed Messi and Haaland with 48 points each after voting by a global panel of national team coaches and captains, selected journalists, plus fans online. The tiebreaker was whoever had more first-place or “5-point” scores from the votes of national team captains. That category was 107 to 64 for the Inter Miami forward.

Neither player showed up at the awards ceremony at Hammersmith Apollo theater in west London. Kylian Mbappé, the third finalist, skipped it too.

Messi had moved from Paris Saint-Germain to Inter Miami and led the David Beckham-owned team to a little-known Leagues Cup title — all while single-handedly elevating soccer’s relevance in the United States.

The 36-year-old Argentina star also topped Haaland and Mbappé for his eighth Ballon d’Or award last October.

World Cup champion Aitana Bonmatí showed up — and cleaned up.

The 25-year-old Spain playmaker was named FIFA’s best women’s soccer player, building on her Ballon d’Or award last October, which followed a UEFA award in August.

And that was after she led Spain to World Cup glory and Barcelona to the Champions League title. She was named player of the tournament for both competitions.

Bonmatí won Monday over Spain teammate Jenni Hermoso and Colombia star Linda Caicedo.

“It’s been an exceptional and unique year that I’ll remember all my life,” Bonmatí said in translated comments. “I owe this to the teams that I’ve played with. Without all of you, I wouldn’t be here.”

“The Best” awards represent FIFA’s version of the older and more prestigious Ballon d’Or prize.

The women’s eligibility period covered performances from Aug. 1, 2022 through the World Cup final last August.

Spain’s women won their first World Cup by beating England 1-0 in the final in Sydney, Australia.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola was named best men’s coach, and England coach Sarina Wiegman took the women’s prize. Guardiola led City to a treble of titles: Champions League, Premier League and FA Cup.

Messi secured the FIFA award for the eighth time in 15 years. He had won it last year, too, after leading Argentina to the 2022 World Cup title.

Fans voted overwhelmingly for Messi, and journalists favored Haaland. The Man City striker had a slight edge in the votes from national team coaches. The national team captains leaned Messi.

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