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Messi awarded sixth Ballon d’Or, Rapinoe wins women’s prize

Argentina's Lionel Messi has won the Ballon d'Or award for world's best footballer for a record sixth time, with US star Megan Rapinoe receiving the women's award.

Paris, 3 December 2019 (dpa/MIA) – Argentina’s Lionel Messi has won the Ballon d’Or award for world’s best footballer for a record sixth time, with US star Megan Rapinoe receiving the women’s award.

The Barcelona forward received the award from French magazine France Football at a ceremony Monday evening at the Theatre du Chatelet in Paris. Rapinoe did not attend the ceremony but a video message was shown to attendees.

Both Messi, 32, and Rapinoe, 34, had won the FIFA best player award in September.

Liverpool’s Dutch defender Virgil van Dijk was second in the vote by journalists, ahead of Portugal star Cristiano Ronaldo of Juventus, who did not attend the ceremony, and Liverpool forward Sadio Mane.

It is Messi’s first Ballon d’Or since 2015 and follows a season in which he helped Barcelona win the Spanish league.

“Ten years ago I received my first Ballon d’Or, guided by my three brothers,” Messi told the audience. “Today I receive my sixth, guided by my wife and children.”

Rapinoe, who this year helped the United States women’s team win a second successive World Cup, was followed by England and Lyon’s defender Lucy Bronze and US and Orlando Pride’s forward Alex Morgan.

Rapinoe was named best player and top scorer at France 2019, and paid tribute to her US team including players, coaching and extended staff as well as family and fans in an Instagram post following the award.

“I think this World Cup win, and all the subsequent wins, both personal and team, feel so special because for the first time in a long time, it feels like WE ALL WON,” Rapinoe wrote.

“And while I am truly honored to win @francefootball Ballon D’Or, I’d like to accept this on behalf of us ALL. WE DESERVE THIS.”

The men’s Ballon d’Or award has been won by a player from Spain’s La Liga in each of the last 11 years.

Since 2008, the award has gone to either five-time winner Ronaldo or Messi, with the exception of 2018, when Croatia midfielder Luka Modric of Real Madrid broke their monopoly.

Messi, who has multiple Spanish titles and Champions Leagues to his name, has not yet won a senior title with Argentina. Ronaldo has two triumphs with Portugal on his CV.

The inaugural women’s award last year was won by Lyon and Norway’s striker Ada Hegerberg.

In other awards, best young player went to Dutch defender Matthijs de Ligt, and the inaugural best keeper award to Liverpool’s Brazilian goalie Alisson.

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