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Messi wins Ballon d’Or award for the fifth time

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Zurich: Lionel Messi won an unprecedented fifth FIFA Ballon d’Or award, given to the footballer of the year, at a gala ceremony here on Monday, ending his great rival Cristiano Ronaldo’s two-year hold on football’s top individual prize.

Either Messi or Ronaldo, who became a three-time winner last year, have won the past eight awards. The FC Barcelona and Argentine superstar’s reclaimed the prize from three-time winner Portugal’s Ronaldo and he now leads 5-3 in their career duel for the annual FIFA prize.

Messi also shook off the challenge of his Barcelona team-mate Brazilian Neymar who was included on the three-man shortlist for the first time. He was handed over the award by former AC Milan and Real Madrid star Kaka who himself won the award in 2007.

Messi received 41.33 percent of the votes, followed by Ronaldo (27.76 percent) and Neymar (7.86 percent). Messi inspired Barcelona to regain the Champions League title among five major trophies in 2015, scoring 52 goals in 61 games with 26 assists.

Barcelona’s dominance was shaped by the brilliance of their incredible offensive trio of Messi, Neymar and Uruguyan Luis Suarez.”

“It’s a very special moment for me, winning another Ballon d’Or after being in the audience watching Cristiano win the last two years. I want to thank all who voted for me and my teammates who without none of this would be possible. I want to thank football for everything it has brought me – both bad and good, it has helped me grow. Thank you,” Messi said after winning the award.

The Catalan cluba’s coach Luis Enrique was chosen as the men’s “World Coach of the Year” after becoming European champion and winning the Spanish league and cup, European Super Cup and Club World Cup.

He eclipsed rivals Pep Guardiola of Bayern Munich and Jorge Sampaoli, who led Chile to their first Copa America win earlier in the year.

America’s Jill Ellis won the World Coach of the Year award for women’s football. La Liga dominated the FIFA FIFPro World XI with eight entries, four each from Barcelona and Real Madrid, including the Ballon D’Or nominees Messi, Neymar and Ronaldo.

Brazilian Wendell Lira won the Puskas Award for the best goal. The striker plays for Vila Nova in the third tier in Brazil but at the time of the goal was playing for Goianesia. He earnt his side a 2-1 win with the strike against Atletico-GO.

American Carli Lloyd was named Women’s World Player of the Year. Lloyd, 33, led the United States to victory in the Women’s World Cup in July, memorably scoring a hat-trick in the final.

The FIFA FIFPro World XI: Goalkeeper: Manuel Neuer Defenders: Dani Alves, Sergio Ramos, Thiago Silva, Marcelo. Midfielders: Andres Iniesta, Paul Pogba, Luka Modric. Forwards: Neymar, Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo. (IANS)

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FIFA expresses satisfaction over Guwahati stadium for U-17 World Cup

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FIFA, Pixabay

Guwahati, March 26, 2017: A delegation of the world football governing body FIFA, accompanied by members of the Local Organising Committee (LOC), on Sunday visited the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium here to assess the preparedness of the FIFA Under-17 World Cup venue.

The delegation was pleased with the preparations at the venue and the eagerness shown by the Assam government, according to a release.

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Addressing the media after the inspection, FIFA Head of Events Jaime Yarza was happy with the progress at the venue.

“The state government is wonderful and their eagerness to be a great venue for the first FIFA tournament in the country is worth lauding. We know how passionate the supporters are in this part of the country and hence, we’re very happy to see the developments and preparations here in Guwahati,” he said.

“There are minor issues to sort out — like development of a new hotel for teams but I believe we are well on schedule for the tournament.”

Tournament Director of the LOC, Javier Ceppi, was also pleased with the progress shown.

“The state government of Assam has really taken the leadership when it comes to making the World Cup a huge effort in their state. We are already working on all operational and promotional matters to make sure that all the people of Assam and of the neighbouring north-eastern states can enjoy World Cup matches in the north-east,” Ceppi reckoned.

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Speaking about the venue which includes the stadium as well as training sites, he added: “The development in the stadium is very satisfactory and we are sure that the FIFA U-17 World Cup will do justice to the vision of Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal of making Guwahati the sports capital of India.”

Also present at the venue were Assam Sports Department Commissioner Ajay Tewari, Assam Football Association President Hemendra Nath Brahma and LOC Project Director Joy Bhattacharjya.

The delegation will finish their weeklong inspection at Kolkata on Monday. (IANS)

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Over 82,400 Tickets requests globally received by FIFA for the 2017 Confederations Cup

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FIFA, Pixabay

Moscow, Jan 20, 2017: Over 82,400 tickets requests globally were received by world football governing body FIFA for the 2017 Confederations Cup, which is due to kick off in Russia in less than five months.

The tournament will be held from June 17 to July 2.

“82,478 FIFA Confederations Cup 2017 tickets had been requested by fans from all continents by the time the first sales window closed at 12.00 CET (14.00 Moscow time) on 19 January 2017,” FIFA said in a statement on Thursday, reports Tass.

“Russian fans are on top of the list with 71,266 tickets requested, followed by their Chilean counterparts with 4,949.”

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The statement from FIFA said that “The tickets purchased by 5 April 2017 will be delivered by courier service free of charge as of April 2017”.

Ticket prices for the 2017 Confederations Cup and the 2018 World Cup were announced in Moscow on July 5 after the board meeting of the Russia-2018 Local Organising Committee (LOC), attended by FIFA officials. The first stage of ticket sales for the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia was launched on December 9 last year.

FIFA’s Head of Ticketing Falk Eller was quoted in the statement as saying: “The sales system in place ensures that fans all around the world have fair and equal access to tickets.”

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“The number of ticket requests from Chile confirms the great appeal of the tournament, not only in Russia but also abroad, as some fans are willing to cross the world to see their team play in the FIFA Confederations Cup,” Eller said.

“We are convinced that the Tournament of Champions will have a thrilling atmosphere in the stands and that the coming sales phases will enable more fans to secure their tickets,” the FIFA official added.

Ticket prices for the Confederation Cup and World Cup are usually divided into three categories and the global football organisation visas the price for each category.

The Confederations Cup will be held at four stadiums in Russia — Otkritie-Arena in Moscow, St. Petersburg Arena, Fisht in Sochi and Kazan-Arena in Kazan. (IANS)

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Portuguese football Star Cristiano Ronaldo calls Syrian Children affected by the war as ‘True Heroes’ Children

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Cristiano Ronaldo. Twitter

December 24, 2016: Portuguese football star Cristiano Ronaldo, a ‘Save the Children’ ambassador, said Syrian children affected by the war were “real heroes” and called for them not to lose hope.

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“Hello, this is for children of Syria. We know that you have been suffering a lot. I am a very famous player, but you are the true heroes, don’t lose your hope,” he said in a video message posted on social media network Twitter on Friday.

“The world is with you, we care about you. I am with you,” he added.

‘Save the Children’ said his “generous donation” would help families buy clothes, food and medical care.

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Syria has been undergoing a four-year battle over its largest city, Aleppo, with UNICEF stating earlier this month that around 100 unaccompanied children were trapped in a building in the east of the city.

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Tens of thousands of people have been killed and hundreds of thousands displaced since 2012. (IANS)