Soccer player Lionel Messi, right, of Argentina arrives with his wife Antonella, left, on the red carpet prior to the FIFA Ballon d'Or 2013 gala held at the Kongresshaus in Zurich, Switzerland, Monday, Jan. 13, 2014. (AP Photo/Keystone,Walter Bieri)
ZURICH — Cristiano Ronaldo has won the FIFA Ballon d’Or award for 2013, ending Lionel Messi’s four-year run as the world’s best player.
Ronaldo scored 69 goals for Real Madrid and Portugal last year, and his stunning hat trick against Sweden in a decisive World Cup playoff was perhaps the defining individual performance.
“There are no words to describe this moment,” said Ronaldo, who was sobbing in tears after accepting the trophy with his young son, also named Cristiano, beside him on stage.
He defeated Barcelona’s Messi and France winger Franck Ribery, who helped Bayern Munich to a sweep of major titles.
Voting was done by national team captains and coaches, plus selected journalists, in FIFA’s 209 member countries.
Ronaldo rolled back his head and closed his eyes, smiling, when Brazil great Pele, after a dramatic pause and smile, read out his name. He kissed his girlfriend, model Irina Shayk, before going up to the stage.
Ronaldo had to wait five years since first winning the award as a Manchester United player, and was heavily favored after FIFA extended the balloting deadline beyond the World Cup playoffs in November and allowed voters to change preferences.
The Portugal star’s display in Stockholm was so impressive it seemed certain to sway voters at a time when Messi was sidelined by his third injury of the year.
Still, FIFA spokesman Walter De Gregorio said Monday the standings were unchanged by the voting rules adjustment, which raised the turnout from around 50 to 88 percent.
Ronaldo said earlier Monday that he made peace with FIFA President Sepp Blatter, whose stated personal preference last October for Messi sparked speculation that the eventual winner would snub the ceremony.
“We talked over the telephone and everything was cleared,” Ronaldo at a news conference before the ceremony. “This is no longer an issue, neither for us nor for football.”
Germany dominated the other major awards, with goalkeeper Nadine Angerer named women’s player of the year ahead of United States forward Abby Wambach, last year’s winner, and Marta of Brazil.
Though Ribery lost, Bayern got one victory as Jupp Heynckes won the coaching award for leading the team to a Champions League, Bundesliga and national cup treble last season before he retired. Heynckes defeated Juergen Klopp, whose Borussia Dortmund team lost the all-German Champions League final, and Alex Ferguson, who retired after winning another Premier League title for Manchester United.
Germany national team coach Sylvia Neid won the women’s award, beating Sweden coach Pia Sundhage and Ralf Kellermann, who led Wolfsburg to the Champions League title.
The World XI elected by players in the FIFPro group of national unions was: Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich, Germany); Dani Alves (Barcelona, Brazil), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid, Spain), Thiago Silva (Paris Saint-Germain, Brazil), Philipp Lahm (Bayern, Germany); Andres Iniesta (Barcelona, Spain), Xavi Hernandez (Barcelona, Spain), Ribery (Bayern, France); Ronaldo (Madrid, Portugal), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (PSG, Sweden), and Messi (Barcelona, Argentina).
Ibrahimovic won a fans’ online vote to get the Puskas Award for best goal, a long-range bicycle kick for Sweden against England in a November 2012 friendly.