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Lionel Messi has been honored as a world footballer for the eighth time. © ANSA / MOHAMMED BADRA

To the astonishment of many: Messi is once again a world footballer

Lionel Messi again and again: The Argentine world champion was voted world footballer of the year despite his departure from the big sports stage. This caused incredulous looks at the gala on Monday evening in London. What do you think of this choice? Vote in our question of the day!

The 36-year-old was honored in his absence on Monday evening, surprisingly beating goalkeeper Erling Haaland (23) from triple winner Manchester City and Kylian Mbappé (25) from Paris Saint-Germain.

Messi, who moved to Inter Miami in the USA in the summer, was able to celebrate his eighth FIFA award - there was rather restrained applause in the Hammersmith Apollo. Many in the audience were obviously surprised.

Lionel Messi did not appear at the award ceremony and no greeting message was recorded. © APA/afp / ADRIAN DENNIS

For a moment between the award ceremonies, the gala was also dedicated to Franz Beckenbauer. “Franz was by far the best and most important player in the history of German football,” said long-time companion Paul Breitner, visibly moved in the hall. Also the two other icons who died in the recent past, the Englishman Sir Bobby Charlton and the Brazilian Mario Zagallo, was thought.

Haaland certainly deserved the award, officially dubbed “The Best,” after his outstanding year with City. The former Dortmund player scored 44 goals in 54 games across all competitions - and not only won the treble of the Champions League, Premier League and FA Cup, but also the UEFA Super Cup and the Club World Cup.

Messi is as popular as ever

Nevertheless, it was Messi again, which calls into question the sporting value of the award, which has been in competition with the Ballon d'Or again for a few years. Messi won this last year because the World Cup title in Qatar in 2022 was also part of the assessment period. At club level, the 36-year-old has long since arrived on the periphery of world football. Coaches, players, journalists – and the fans, the majority of whom still carry Messi in their hearts, are eligible to vote.

Pep Guardiola was named best coach. © ANSA / NEIL HALL

The Spanish woman Aitana Bonmati FC Barcelona has been named World Player of the Year. Pep Guardiola on the other hand, has been recognized as a world trainer. He won the election for the first time in 2011, when he was still coach of FC Barcelona. “Thank you very much,” said the Man City coach on stage. “I would like to share this trophy with Simone and Luciano. I would like to share this trophy with Manchester.” At the end of his speech, the former professional also thanked his family, who accompanied him to the English metropolis.

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