Cristiano Ronaldo has won the FIFA Ballon d’Or for the best player in the world for the third time following previous wins in 2008 and 2013, while Germany midfielder Nadine Kessler has claimed her first-ever FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year award. Germany coach Joachim Low and compatriot Ralf Kellermann, coach of Wolfsburg Ladies, have been named as FIFA World Coaches of the Year for Men’s and Women’s Football, respectively. The winners were chosen by the coaches and captains of national teams as well as by international media representatives invited by FIFA and France Football. The entire electoral procedure was overseen and monitored by PricewaterhouseCoopers Switzerland (PwC).
The awards were presented on Monday evening (12 January 2015) during a 90-minute show at Zurich’s Kongresshaus that was hosted by British journalist Kate Abdo. Musical entertainment for the 1,100 guests and TV viewers in 190 countries and territories around the world was provided by Swiss singer-songwriter Bastian Baker.
International players’ union FIFPro also invited 24,000 professional players from around the world to vote for the FIFA FIFPro World XI, the best team of 2014, with the following result: Manuel Neuer (Germany) in goal; David Luiz (Brazil), Philipp Lahm (Germany), Sergio Ramos (Spain) and Thiago Silva (Brazil) in defence; Ángel Di María (Argentina), Andrés Iniesta (Spain) and Toni Kroos (Germany) in midfield; and Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal), Lionel Messi (Argentina) and Arjen Robben (Netherlands) in attack.
The FIFA Puskás Award for the best goal of the year was also presented after 3.3 million football fans cast their votes on FIFA.com, FIFA on YouTube and francefootball.fr. This award, which honours Ferenc Puskás, the captain and star of the 1950s Hungary team, was won by Colombian midfielder James Rodriguez, who demonstrated perfect technique to give his side a 1-0 lead over Uruguay in the round of 16 at the 2014 FIFA World Cup™ (final score: 2-0). Rodriguez topped the poll with 42% of the votes ahead of Stephanie Roche (33%) and Robin van Persie (11%).
During the show, other people were also commended for their services to football on or off the pitch. Journalist Hiroshi Kagawa, 90, was presented with the FIFA Presidential Award by President Blatter. The Japanese from Kobe was honoured for his tireless work for football in Japan, which has continued to grow in popularity in his homeland thanks to his articles and incredible passion for the game. He was the oldest media representative on duty at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, which was also his tenth World Cup.
The FIFA Fair Play Award was presented to all volunteers who have worked at FIFA competitions, because without their work, their tireless support, their enthusiasm and their passion for the game, it would be virtually impossible for FIFA to organise its many tournaments year in, year out.
The awards at a glance:
The FIFA Ballon d’Or was presented for the fifth time since the merging of the FIFA World Player of the Year award and France Football’s Ballon d’Or award in 2010.
· 181 national team coaches, 182 national team captains, and 181 media representatives submitted their votes for the FIFA Ballon d’Or award. Cristiano Ronaldo won the title with 37.66% of all votes ahead of Lionel Messi (15.76%) and Manuel Neuer (15.72%).
· 148 national team coaches, 146 national team captains, and 90 media representatives voted for the FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year award. Nadine Kessler came out on top with 17.52% of all votes, ahead of Brazil’s Marta (14.16%) and the USA’s Abby Wambach (13.33%).
· 181 national team coaches, 182 national team captains, and 181 media representatives voted for the FIFA World Coach of the Year for Men’s Football award. Joachim Low won the award with 36.23% of all votes after leading Germany to glory at the World Cup in Brazil. Second and third place were claimed by Carlo Ancelotti (Real Madrid, 22.06%) and Diego Simeone (Atletico Madrid, 19.02%), respectively.
· 147 national team coaches, 145 national team captains, and 90 media representatives voted for the FIFA World Coach of the Year for Women’s Football award. Ralf Kellermann, who guided Wolfsburg to a successful defence of their UEFA Women’s Champions League title last season, won the award after securing 17.06% of all votes, ahead of Maren Meinert (coach of the Germany U-19 and U-20 women’s national teams, 13.16%) and Japan coach Norio Sasaki (13.06%).