Lionel Messi wins record sixth men's Ballon d'Or award

Lionel Messi claimed a record sixth men's Ballon d'Or award on Monday, beating Liverpool's four leading nominees to claim soccer's most prestigious individual trophy. (AP)
Updated 03 December 2019

Lionel Messi wins record sixth men's Ballon d'Or award

  • He beat Virgil van Dijk, the runner-up, and third-placed Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal
  • Megan Rapinoe earlier won the women's Ballon d'Or

PARIS: Lionel Messi claimed a record sixth men's Ballon d'Or award on Monday, beating Liverpool's four leading nominees to claim soccer's most prestigious individual trophy.

The Argentine, who won the Liga title with Barcelona but only managed third place in the Copa America with his country, added to his 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2015 trophies.

He beat Virgil van Dijk, the runner-up, and third-placed Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal, who has won the award five times.

"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."

Senegal's Sadio Mane, who with Van Dijk and fellow nominees Alisson Becker of Brazil and Egypt's Mohamed Salah, helped Liverpool win the Champions League, was fourth in the poll of international journalists.

"It was amazing," said Van Dijk. "There are a couple of players like him (Messi) who are fantastic. I'm proud of what I've achieved with Liverpool and Holland. It's going to be tough (to win the award) when these guys are around."

Messi, whose sterling career was once again rewarded, and Ronaldo, between them had won 10 consecutive Ballon d'Or awards until Croatia's Luka Modric prevailed in 2018.

INCREDIBLE YEAR
Megan Rapinoe earlier won the women's Ballon d'Or after leading the United States to a record-extending fourth World Cup title in France this year as they retained the trophy.

The 34-year-old midfielder, the standout player at the June-July tournament, succeeded Norway's Ada Hegerberg who did not take part in the World Cup.Rapinoe was not present at the ceremony in the Theatre du Chatelet, where the show 'An American In Paris' is on.

"I'm so sad I can't make it tonight. It's absolutely incredible congrats to the other nominees. I can't believe I'm the one winning in this field, it's been an incredible year," Rapinoe said in a recorded message.

"I want to thank my team mates and the U.S. federation."

Dutchman Matthijs de Ligt, a key player in Ajax Amsterdam's thrilling run to the Champions League semi-finals and now at Juventus, won the Kopa trophy for the best Under-21 male player.

Alisson, one of the four Liverpool players in the top seven for the men's Ballon d'Or, was awarded the new Yashin trophy for the best male goalkeeper of the year.

There was, however, no trophy for the best female Under-21 player or keeper.


First desert polo tournament kicks off in Saudi Arabia’s AlUla as part of Winter at Tantora

Updated 17 January 2020

First desert polo tournament kicks off in Saudi Arabia’s AlUla as part of Winter at Tantora

ALULA, Saudi Arabia: The first ever AlUla desert polo championship launched on Thursday with the two-day tournament kicking off during the second season of the Winter at Tantora Festival.
The event is organized by the Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) and in cooperation with the Saudi Polo Federation.
A group of the most prominent international polo players will be competing in the tournament including the founder of the La Dolfina Polo Team, 10-goal handicapped, Adolfo Cambiaso. Other notable players include David Stirling, Pablo Mac Donough, and Argentinian Nacho Figueras.
For his part, Chief Executive Officer at RCU, Amr Al-Madani, said: “The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia seeks to preserve and protect the cultural heritage of AlUla while promoting its unique landscape. A city that is rich with anthropological findings, historical anecdotes, and a depth of civilization.”
He added: “Hosting the Desert Polo Tournament during the Winter at Tantora Festival provides a global platform which will help define the value of a city rooted in the core of history. It is also a tribute to the regions great equestrian tradition and a big contribution toward achieving the goals of Vision 2030.”

Amr Hussein Zidan, the President of the Saudi Polo Federation, also commented: “AlUla Desert Polo is not only a new concept; it is also the first official tournament organized by the Saudi Polo Federation. The organization was established in July 2018 as a means to develop the sport in the Kingdom, implement international best practices and help enthusiasts compete at elite levels of the competition.”
AlUla is a perfect setting to launch the Desert Polo Tournament as it is characterized by its unique location and its great historical and cultural significance to the Kingdom and the world. The exceptional site of the city and its charming nature provides links to ancient civilizations and paints an accurate picture of past life, memories, and the stories of the long-gone dwellers of the old city.


The Desert Polo Tournament is one of the major events taking place during the Winter at Tantora Festival. Over the course of 12 weeks, the festival will present a variety of activities that merge eastern and western culture embodying AlUla’s heritage as a meeting point for difference civilizations from around the world throughout history.
Winter at Tantora Festival offers a wide range of diverse experiences that cater to all tastes from all walks of life. The festival will take place every weekend starting 19th December 2019, and running until the 7th of March 2020. Guests this year will also have the unique opportunity to visit the historical heritage sites before they close to the public until October 2020. They will also be able to attend musical and artistic performances by some of the most respected artists in the Arab, and international, world.
The AlUla Desert Polo Championship is sponsored by Amaala, Bentley and Richard Mille.
For more information, and to book your spot during the various festival activities, please visit the festival website here.