Lionel Messi and Megan Rapinoe won their respective Player of the Year honors at the FIFA Best awards on Monday at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan.

Messi Rapinoe The Best FIFA
Lionel Messi and Megan Rapinoe smile pretty after taking home Player of the Year honors at FIFA’s The Best awards ceremony. (Image: AFP)

That marks the sixth time that Messi has won FIFA’s Player of the Year award, while Rapinoe won the prize for the first time.

Messi Beats Out Ronaldo, van Dijk

Messi hadn’t won the honor since 2015, meaning this was the first time he was awarded the trophy since it was renamed “The Best.” FIFA has branded all of the awards at the ceremony with that honor: for instance, Messi won “The Best FIFA Men’s Player,” while Liverpool and Brazil keeper, Alisson, won “The Best FIFA Men’s Goalkeeper.”

Messi beat out fellow finalists, Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo, and Liverpool defender, Virgil van Dijk. The win put the Argentinian star one award ahead of Ronaldo, who has also won the Player of the Year award five times. Between the two, Messi and Ronaldo have won the award in 11 of the past 12 years, with only Luka Modric breaking up their streak last year.

The Best FIFA Award Winners

  • The Best FIFA Men’s Player: Lionel Messi
  • The Best FIFA Women’s Player: Megan Rapinoe
  • The Best FIFA Men’s Coach: Jurgen Klopp
  • The Best FIFA Women’s Coach: Jill Ellis
  • The Best FIFA Men’s Goalkeeper: Alisson
  • The Best FIFA Women’s Goalkeeper: Sari van Veenendaal

Messi received 46 points in the voting, ahead of Van Dijk (38), and Ronaldo (36). Liverpool forwards Mohamed Salah (26), and Sadio Mane (23), rounded out the top five in the voting.

The award comes after another productive season for the 32-year-old Messi. He scored 51 goals and added 22 assists in all competitions, and led Barcelona to its fourth La Liga title in the past five years.

Rapinoe, Ellis Honored for World Cup Success

The 34-year-old Rapinoe was named The Best FIFA Women’s Player following an unforgettable performance in the Women’s World Cup, where she helped lead the United States to its fourth win in the competition.

Rapinoe scored six goals during the tournament, winning both the Golden Boot and Golden Ball awards as the top scorer and top player of the competition, respectively. She also garnered attention for her willingness to be outspoken on a variety of social issues, something she referenced when accepting her award.

“If we really want to have meaningful change, what I think is most inspiring, would be if everybody other than Raheem Sterling and [Kalidou] Koulibaly, if there were as outraged about racism as they were, if everybody was as outraged about homophobia as the LGBTQ players, if everybody was as outraged about the lack of equal pay and investment in the women’s game other than just women, that would be the most inspiring thing to me,” Rapinoe said in her acceptance speech. “That’s my ask of everybody…we have so much success, we have incredible platforms, I ask everybody here to lend your platform, to lift people up, to use this beautiful game to change the world for better.”

Rapinoe received 46 points to beat out American teammate Alex Morgan (42), and English star Lucy Bronze (29) for the award. USA manager Jill Ellis was named The Best FIFA Women’s Coach.