After Ballon d’Or,  Ronaldo Set to be Crowned 2016 FIFA Best Player  

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By Duro Ikhazuagbe

The world’s best football players and coaches will be recognised today at the inaugural edition of The Best FIFA Football Awards ceremony in Zurich, Switzerland.

All eyes are on Real Madrid and Portugal talisman, Cristiano Ronaldo to cap a brilliant 2016 with another accolade to his trophy chest.

Last month, Ronaldo won the France Football’s Ballon d’Or to emerge the world’s best footballer. He has his eternal rival, Argentina and Barcelona forward, Lionel Messi and Atletico Madrid and France player Antoine Griezmann to contend with.

However, in terms of achievements, Ronaldo stands head and shoulder above the others. First the former Manchester United star triumphed in the UEFA Champions League with Real Madrid, clinching the title by scoring the last penalty in the shoot-out.

This was a fitting way to cap a campaign in which he finished top of the competition’s scoring charts with 16 goals, seven more than second-placed Robert Lewandowski.

Then as Portugal captain, he had the honour of lifting the first major trophy in his country’s history at UEFA EURO 2016. Ronaldo’s Portugal secured the honour by upsetting hosts France in the final in Paris.

With his irrepressible thirst for goals, power and speed, Ronaldo continues to amass silverware and records in abundance.

Lionel Messi on the other hand has not showed signs of letting up. After rounding off 2015 by collecting the adidas Silver Ball at the FIFA Club World Cup in Japan, he continued to figure large for club and country in 2016.

In winning his eighth La Liga winner’s medal with Barcelona, he chipped in with 20 goals (putting him third in the scoring charts) and an impressive 16 assists, and also won the Copa del Rey for a fourth time with Los Blaugrana and the Spanish Super Cup for the seventh time. 

He also starred for Argentina on their run to the final of Copa America Centenario, serving up more assists in the tournament than any other player and ending it as the second highest scorer. In the process, Messi also became La Albiceleste’s leading all-time goalscorer.

The third nominee, Frenchman Antoine Griezmann, was named the best player both in the Spanish league, in which he helped Atletico Madrid finish third, and at the UEFA EURO, 2016. Last year will go down as the season in which Griezmann truly came into his own.

With 40 goals over the course of the 2015/16 campaign, he spearheaded Atletico and France’s respective charges to the finals of the UEFA Champions League and EURO 2016, although both ended in heart-wrenching defeats. A skilful, unselfish attacker, the 5’9 (1.76m) schemer can quite simply do the lot.

As Griezmann himself recently told FIFA.com, he is a “more complete player now” than ever before and has “improved in every way in the last two years”. One person who would certainly echo this view is his coach Diego Simeone, who is on record as saying that the man they now call Grizou has raised his game to such an extent that he is currently “among the top three players in the world”.

The FIFA Awards are not limited to the Best Player category alone. Awards are going to also be given in the Best FIFA Women’s Player Award category with Melanie Behringer, Carli Lloyd and Marta as nominees.

Nominees for the Best Coach of the Year appear a tough one to predict who is going to smile away with the crown. English Premier League winning gaffer of Leicester City, Claudio Ranieri, leads Fernando Santos who won Euro 2016 as Portugal coach while Zinedine Zidane who also won the UEFA Champions League with Real Madrid are in the category.
For the Best FIFA Women’s Coach Award category, the nominees are; Jill Ellis, Silvia Neid and Pia Sundhage
 The FIFA Puskás Award 2016  nominees include; Marlone, Daniuska Rodriguez and Mohd Faiz Subri.
There is also the FIFA Fair Play Award and the  FIFA Fan Award. Nominees for the Fan Award category are; ADO Den Haag supporters, Borussia Dortmund, Liverpool supporters and Iceland supporters.
The winners of the Best FIFA Men’s and Women’s Player, and the Best FIFA Men’s and Women’s Coach awards, are determined through a combined voting process, in which 50 per cent of the decision is based on the votes of captains (25 per cent) and head coaches (25 per cent) from national teams all around the globe.

The remaining 50 per cent is split equally between an online public ballot of football fans (25 per cent) and submissions from a selected group of media representatives (25 per cent) from all around the world. The vote took place between Friday, November 4 and Tuesday November 22, 2016.

According to FIFA, the winners of the inaugural Best FIFA Men’s and Women’s Player, and Best FIFA Men’s and Women’s Coach awards will be given a newly-designed, platinum-coated trophy. This is the first award by FIFA after ending its five-year romance with France Football and the Ballon d’Or in 2015.

“The trophy has a shape which resembles the iconic FIFA World Cup trophy, an homage to tradition with a contemporary, dynamic design. The winners of the other awards will also be handed different, platinum-coated, trophies during the ceremony,” concludes the FIFA statement.

AWARDS AND NOMINEES
*The Best FIFA Men’s Player Award (Nominees: Cristiano Ronaldo, Antoine Griezmann and Lionel Messi)
*The Best FIFA Women’s Player Award (Nominees: Melanie Behringer, Carli Lloyd and Marta)
*The Best FIFA Men’s Coach Award (Nominees: Claudio Ranieri, Fernando Santos and Zinedine Zidane)
*The Best FIFA Women’s Coach Award (Nominees: Jill Ellis, Silvia Neid and Pia Sundhage)
*The FIFA Puskás Award 2016 (Nominees: Marlone, Daniuska Rodriguez and Mohd Faiz Subri)
*The FIFA Fair Play Award
*The FIFA Fan Award (Nominees: ADO Den Haag supporters, Borussia Dortmund-Liverpool supporters and Iceland supporters)