The Best FIFA Football Awards 2019 took place in Milan, Italy on Monday, 23 September. The three main contenders for this year's top prize were Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Virgil van Dijk.
Here is a look at the key highlights from the event:
‘Calm As You Like, He’s...’
Dutch captain Virgil van Dijk missed out on the top individual prize as Barcelona ace Lionel Messi took home FIFA’s BEST ‘Player Of The Year’ award.
During his first full season with Liverpool, the defender helped the Reds lift the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Super Cup. His presence at the back made sure Liverpool finished with a record number of points, losing only one match during the 2018-19 English Premier League campaign.
Not often has a defender taken on the flair players for the top individual awards in football, but Van Dijk’s brilliance earned him the title of UEFA’s Best Player. Not only for club, Van Dijk led the Dutch to the final of the inaugural UEFA Nations League, where they were narrowly beaten by Portugal.
The results of the award did create a buzz online with many claiming that on the basis of performances last season, Van Dijk should have finished at the top of the pile.
Manchester City Snubbed!
Manchester City, who were the first team to win the domestic treble, did not receive any recognition at the awards. Having pipped Liverpool in a historic title race, Ederson was the only Man City player to be present in Milan for the awards ceremony.
Many questioned FIFA for snubbing the likes of Raheem Sterling, Bernardo Silva and Sergio Aguero.
Women’s World XI
FIFA announced the first-ever Women’s World XI. The team was dominated by the Americans, who won the World Cup earlier in the year. The US women’s team coach Jill Ellis was presented with the trophy for the women’s coach of the year by Jose Mourinho.
Megan Rapinoe was crowned the Women’s ‘Player Of The Year’ after helping the US capture the World Cup in 2019.
Say No to Racism
Rapinoe also spoke about racism in football. During her speech, she talked about Raheem Sterling of Manchester City and Kalidou Koulibaly of Napoli, who have on multiple occasions faced racial abuse, and how they have been able to tackle the situations. Rapinoe went on to say that only when other, except Sterling and Kolibaly, are as outraged about racism, can racism truly be tackled in the beautiful game.
Before announcing the FIFA men’s ‘Player Of The Year’, FIFA President Giani Infantino also addressed the gathering asking people and national football federations to ensure racism is “kicked out” of the beautiful game. He also singled out the Italian league for continuously failing to take action over reported racist abuse.