The Best FIFA Awards 2019: Messi, Rapinoe win world-player prizes
Right, we're going to wrap up this live feed. The presenters' banter may have been hit and miss - at best - but we've nonetheless had a jolly old time on what was, in particular, a memorable night for Lionel Messi and Megan Rapinoe.
They took the Best Men's Player and Best Women's Player prizes, in both cases for the first time in their careers - and, because football is a sport that can't have enough individual awards, we now get to find out whether they can repeat the feat when the men's and women's Ballons d'Or are handed out in Paris in December.
I for one will be counting the seconds. Thanks for reading!
Before I leave you, you might also be interested in this overview of who voted for who when it came to nominating the recipient of the Men's Best Player award.
Interestingly, Cristiano got Messi's second vote (out of three), but the Argentine was conspicuous by his absence from the Portuguese's ballot paper.
All in all, not a good night in the being-the-bigger-man stakes for Ronnie.
If you haven't seen Daniel Zsori's Puskas Award-winning goal, by the way, you can watch the Debrecen player's very tasty overhead kick here.
And, in case you missed it, another look at the men's and women's World 11s, voted for by the occupants' fellow pros.
2019 men's FIFA FIFPro World 11
Alisson, De Ligt, Van Dijk, Ramos, Marcelo, Modric, De Jong, Mbappé, Messi, Hazard and Ronaldo.
2019 women's FIFA FIFPro World 11
Van Veenendaal, Renard, Bronze, O'Hara, Fischer, Henry, Lavelle, Ertz, Rapinoe, Morgan and Marta.
Right, my friends, that is that for tonight's FIFA The Best Awards.
Here's a reminder of all our prize winners:
The Best FIFA Men's Player
Lionel Messi (Barcelona/Argentina)
The Best FIFA Women's Player
Megan Rapinoe (Reign FC/USA)
The Best FIFA Men's Goalkeeper
Alisson Becker (Liverpool/Brazil)
The Best FIFA Women's Goalkeeper
Sari van Veenendaal (Netherlands/Arsenal/Atlético Madrid)
The Best FIFA Men's Coach
Jürgen Klopp (Liverpool)
The Best FIFA Women's Coach
Jill Ellis (USA
FIFA Puskás Award
Daniel Zsori (Hungary)
FIFA Fan Award
FIFA Fair Play Award
Marcelo Bielsa and the Leeds United squad
Two-time World Cup winner Rapinoe gives an acceptance speech of unsurprising eloquence and intelligence, using her moment on the stage to highlight issues such as racism in football and the heart-breaking story of Sahar Khodayari, the 'blue girl' who recently burned herself to death in protest at Iran's ban on women attending matches.
Rapinoe named Best Women's Player
And it goes to Rapinoe! Over on Pennsylvania Avenue, a bloated orange septuagenarian throws his McDonald's at the TV screen.
"They don't tell you how heavy it is," Rapinoe quips as she picks up her award.
Women's Best Player award: Bronze, Rapinoe or Morgan?
And we have come to the final award of the night, which is the Women's Best Player prize. The nominees are:
Lucy Bronze (Lyon/England):
Bronze, who came fourth in the running for the award in 2018, has already been named UEFA's Women's Player of the Year for 2018/19 - a season in which she helped Lyon to league, cup and Champions League success, before playing her part in England's run to the World Cup semi-finals.
Megan Rapinoe (Reign FC/USA):
Named Player of the Match as the US saw off the Netherlands to win the Women's World Cup this summer, Rapinoe netted the opener in the final to cap her six-goal haul in France, where she not only scooped the Golden Boot, but also the Golden Ball as the tournament's outstanding performer.
Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride/USA):
Also the scorer of six goals at France 2019, Morgan was edged out by Rapinoe for the Golden Boot, instead taking its silver counterpart. Together with Rapinoe, she was one of the undoubted stars of the Americans' second-straight World Cup victory.
Messi wins The Best Men's Player award
And the award goes to Van Di... wait, no! It's Messi!
It's the first time that the Argentine, who succeeds Real Madrid and Croatia midfielder Luka Modric as The Best FIFA Men's Player, has won the award.
The time has come to find out the identity of the Best FIFA Men's Player 2019. The nominees, remember, are:
Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus/Portugal):
A two-time winner of the award, Ronaldo scored 21 league goals in his first season at Juventus as the Vecchia Signora lifted their seventh successive Serie A title, before skippering Portugal to glory in the maiden UEFA Nations League finals in June.
Lionel Messi (Barcelona/Argentina):
A five-time recipient of the Ballon d'Or, Messi is yet to win The Best FIFA Men's Player award since its inception in 2016, but could finally bag the trophy after a season in which he netted 51 goals in all competitions to help Barcelona to a 26th Spanish league championship.
Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool/Netherlands):
Centre-back Van Dijk, who has already beaten off Ronaldo and Messi to the UEFA Men's Player of the Year award, was a crucial figure in the Liverpool side that won the Champions League and came second in the Premier League, and was also part of the Netherlands team that finished as Nations League runners-up.
Men's World 11 announced
Time for the men's FIFA FIFPro World 11, voted for by over 25,000 fellow professionals.
One thing to note is that the Premier League had the most players on the 55-man shortlist this year - 21 - for the first time since 2009.
The XI is: Alisson, De Ligt, Van Dijk, Ramos, Marcelo, Modric, De Jong, Mbappé, Messi, Hazard and Ronaldo.
What is Marcelo doing in that team. He was utter guff last season!
Now... painful patter with José!
D'Amico asks the 'Special One' who he might he nominate as coach if Earth were to send a team to an interplanetary cup.
"I think it would have to be a coach without a job," Mou quips.
Even by football awards ceremony standards, the on-stage banter has been execrable.
Ellis named Best Women's Coach
José Mourinho is called out to reveal the winner, which is... Ellis! Back-to-back World Cup wins certainly seemed like a convincing argument to give the accolade to the Portsmouth-born coach.
Best Women's Coach: Ellis, Neville or Wiegman?
Now it's time to find out who is 2019's Best Women's Coach. The finalists are Jill Ellis (USA), Phil Neville (England) and Sarina Wiegman (Netherlands).
Before stepping down as head coach in July, Ellis led the US to a second straight World Cup win at the tournament in France this summer - edging out Neville's England in the semi-finals, before defeating Wiegman's Netherlands in the trophy decider.
Having come second to Lyon's Reynald Pedros in the voting for The Best FIFA Women's Coach last year, Wiegman is looking to go one better after going so close to adding the World Cup to the Dutch's 2017 European title - in what was only their second appearance at the tournament.
Although Neville's Lionesses had to settle for a fourth-place finish in France, they did see off Ellis' Americans in March to win the SheBelieves Cup.
Alisson wins Best Men's Goalkeeper Award
It goes to the favourite! Alisson succeeds Real Madrid and Belgium custodian Thibaut Courtois as The Best Men's Goalkeeper.
The Best Men's Goalkeeper is the next award to be presented.
A reminder that the nominees are: Alisson Becker (Liverpool/Brazil), Ederson Moraes (Manchester City/Brazil) and Marc-André ter Stegen (Barcelona/Germany).
Having won the Champions League and the Copa América for club and country, respectively, Alisson looks to be the favourite for the award. The 26-year-old has already been named UEFA Champions League Goalkeeper of the Year for 2018/19.
The women's 2019 FIFA FIFPro World 11 is: Van Veenendaal, Renard, Bronze, O'Hara, Fischer, Henry, Lavelle, Ertz, Rapinoe, Morgan, Marta.
No fewer than five members of the USA's World Cup-winning team in that line-up.
Women's World 11 revealed
After a brief pause for a spot of Mozart, it's on to a look back over the summer's Women's World Cup, which, says Gullit, enjoyed the kind of success - particularly in terms of viewing figures - that had previously been "unthinkable".
And segueing nicely on from a video montage of the tournament, we are introduced to the women's FIFA FIFPro World 11. Stand by...
D'Amico and Gullit step over to one of La Scala's boxes for a bit of banter with legendary Italian coach Fabio Capello, whose English doesn't appear to have improved since his time as England boss.
The main take-home from their chat is that he and Gullit, who worked together at Milan back in the day, are still top chums.
FIFA Fair Play Award goes to Bielsa and Leeds
This year's FIFA Fair Play Award goes to Marcelo Bielsa and the Leeds United squad, for allowing opponents Aston Villa to equalise in a Championship game last season, after Bielsa's side had scored a goal while Villa's Jonathan Kodjia was down with a head injury.
Van Veenendaal scoops Best Women's Goalkeeper
Sari van Veenendaal, who captained the Netherlands to a silver-medal finish at the summer's Women's World Cup in France, takes the inaugural award!
Samuel Eto'o is on hand to present the award to the 29-year-old, who gives a not un-tear-jerking speech in which she offers a nod to the many "role models" who, like her, also play between the sticks in the women's game of today.
Right, time for an award making its first ever appearance at the gala: The Best FIFA Women's Goalkeeper.
A reminder that the three final nominees are:
Christiane Endler, Chile/Paris Saint-Germain
Hedvig Lindahl, Sweden/Chelsea/VfL Wolfsburg
and Sari van Veenendaal, Netherlands/Arsenal/Atlético Madrid
The FIFA Fan Award goes to Silvia Grecco! This is actually quite emotional. Brazilian football legend Marta, winner of last year's The Best Woman's Player award, can be seen wiping away tears.
Now it's time for the FIFA Fan Award, whose nominees are:
Silvia Grecco, whose efforts to narrate Palmeiras matches to her blind son, Nickollas, make sure he can follow the team that he loves. "What gives Nickollas the most pleasure in life is football and being in the stadium," she told FIFA.com. "I go into details about the atmosphere, the characteristics of each player, and narrating goals is without doubt the most emotional part."
Justo Sánchez, who is a lifelong fan of Uruguayan club Cerro, but switched allegiances to their fierce rivals Rampla Juniors after his son, Nicolás, a huge Rampla supporter, was killed in a road accident on his way to one of their games. "My blood will be Cerro until the day I die," Justo said, "but my heart will always be Rampla now."
The Netherlands fans, whose passionate support lit up the 2019 World Cup as Sarina Wiegman's Dutch team made it to the final - their best ever performance at the tournament.
Klopp named Best Men's Coach
It goes to Klopp!
"We all know what an incredible job Mauricio and Pep did," says Klopp of his two fellow finalists. He also speaks of his love for Liverpool, and has words of praise for his players: "I'm really proud to be the manager of such an incredible bunch of players.
"I don't 100% understand individual awards," he also admits. Ah.
The Best FIFA Men's Coach is the next accolade to be dolled out.
The three finalists are: Pep Guardiola, who steered Manchester City to an unprecedented English treble of Premier League, FA Cup and Carabao Cup; Jürgen Klopp, whose Liverpool side lifted their sixth European title and finished as league runners-up to City, despite their tremendous haul of 97 points; and Mauricio Pochettino, who piloted Tottenham Hotspur to their first ever appearance in a Champions League final.
A reminder that the nominees are:
- Lionel Messi, for Barcelona vs Real Betis (LaLiga 17 March 2019)
- Juan Fernando Quintero, for River Plate vs Racing Club (Superliga Argentina, 10 February 2019)
- Daniel Zsori, for Debrecen FC vs Ferencvaros TC (Hungarian First Division, 16 February 2019)
To be fair to Gullit and D'Amico, they aren't hanging about too much with their introductory spiel, and we're straight into the prizes.
First up we have the FIFA Puskas Award for the year's best goal.
Chosen by a 10-person expert FIFA panel from top three voted for by fans, the award takes into account goals scored from 16 July 2018 to 19 July 2019.
"This was the year of women's football," says D'Amico as she looks back on the the summer's successful FIFA Women's World Cup. Three of the stars of the tournament - Lucy Bronze, Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan - are up for The Best Woman's Player award.
On come our hosts: the Italian journalist Ilaria D'Amico, and legendary Dutch footballer Ruud Gullit. First up, they treat us to some supremely stilted banter.
Confirmation that Cristiano Ronaldo, winner of The Best Men's Player award in 2016 and 2017, has - for a second successive year - given tonight's ceremony a wide berth.
We start off with the rousing tones of Puccini's Nessun Dorma. Like any other English football fan over the age of 30, it always gets me.
Next up, some ballet.
Lionel Messi is here. We're about to get underway in Milan.
Here's Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino, who is one of the three final nominees to succeed Didier Deschamps as the Best FIFA Men's Coach, arriving with his wife, Karina Grippaldi.
Cristiano gives The Best Awards a miss
We are hearing that Cristiano Ronaldo, who is up for The Best Men's Player Award alongside Virgil van Dijk and Lionel Messi, has opted not to travel to Milan.
So he probably hasn't won it, then.
A reminder that the Best Player, Best Goalkeeper and Best Coach prizes are chosen by an even, 25% split of online voters, journalists, national-team captains and national-team coaches.
It's also worth noting that FIFA's The Best gongs are, in the organisation's own words, given out for "achievements during the period from 16 July 2018 to 19 July 2019 inclusive for the men's awards and from 25 May 2018 to 7 July 2019 inclusive for the women's awards".
So, put simply: tonight's ceremony is all about what took place over the course of the 2018/19 season - unlike the Ballon d'Or, whose focus is on the calendar year just gone (at least in theory, that is).
Incidentally, should you be looking to get yourself in front of a TV screen for tonight's gala in Milan, we've prepared a useful guide on how and where to watch.
...and here's former Porto, Chelsea, Inter, Real Madrid and Manchester United head coach José Mourinho, who has tipped Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk to take the Best Men's Player award, by the way. The Dutchman, who has already scooped UEFA's Men's Player of ther Year prize for 2018/19, looks to be the favourite.
As promised, here are some photos of tonight's suited-and-booted gala guests posing on the red carpet at La Scala - starting with World Cup-winning Barcelona and Spain legend Carles Puyol, seen here arriving with his partner Vanesa Lorenzo.
The Best FIFA Men's Player:
Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal/Juventus
Lionel Messi, Argentina/Barcelona
Virgil van Dijk, Netherlands/Liverpool
The Best FIFA Women's Player:
Lucy Bronze, England/Olympique Lyonnais
Alex Morgan, USA/Orlando Pride
Megan Rapinoe, USA/Reign FC
The Best FIFA Men's Coach:
Pep Guardiola, Spain/Manchester City
Jürgen Klopp, Germany/Liverpool
Mauricio Pochettino, Argentina/Tottenham
The Best FIFA Women's Coach:
Jill Ellis, USA national team
Phil Neville, England national team
Sarina Wiegman, Netherlands
The Best FIFA Men's Goalkeeper:
Alisson Becker, Brazil/Liverpool
Ederson, Brazil/Manchester City
Marc-André ter Stegen, Germany/Barcelona
The Best FIFA Women's Goalkeeper:
Christiane Endler, Chile/Paris Saint-Germain
Hedvig Lindahl, Sweden/Chelsea/VfL Wolfsburg
Sari van Veenendaal, Netherlands/Arsenal/Atlético Madrid
FIFA Puskas Award:
Lionel Messi, for Barcelona against Real Betis
Juan Fernando Quintero, for River Plate against Racing Club
Daniel Zsori, for Debrecen FC vs Ferencvaros TC
The Best FIFA Football Awards: welcome one and all
Welcome to our online coverage of the 2019 The Best FIFA Football Awards, which get underway at Milan's Teatro alla Scala at 20:30 CEST.
Now in its fourth year, the FIFA gala will be hosted by Dutch football great Ruud Gullit and Italian journalist Ilaria D'Amico, with no fewer than nine prizes due to be handed out.
They are: Best Men's Player, Best Men's Goalkeeper, Best Men's Coach, Best Women's Player, Best Women's Goalkeeper, Best Women's Coach, the FIFA Fair Play Award, the FIFA Puskas Award and the FIFA Fan Award Award.
The men's and women's 2019 FIFA FIFPro World 11s, voted for by the occupants' fellow professionals, will also be revealed.
The great and the good of the beautiful game have been filing into La Scala since about an hour ago, so stand by for some choice red-carpet snaps of our suitably scrubbed-up attendees.