FIFA Ballon d'Or Awards 2011: Lionel Messi, Homare Sawa Win Player Of The Year Awards

Lionel Messi has been named the FIFA Ballon d'Or 2011 winner, while Homare Sawa has beaten Marta to the 2011 FIFA Women's Player of the Year award.

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The FIFA Ballon d'Or: Yay For The Right Choice, Yay For Those Who Got It Wrong

Lionel Messi is obviously the best footballer in the world. But all praise to those who reckon it's somebody else.

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FIFA Ballon d'Or 2011: Lionel Messi Wins World Player Of The Year

After his exceptional performance during the 2011 calendar year, Lionel Messi has once again been named the world player of the year. Beating out Cristiano Ronaldo and his FC Barcelona teammate Xavi Hernandez, Messi is the winner of the 2011 FIFA Ballon d'Or. Messi won both the World Player of the Year and the Ballon d'Or in 2009 before the two awards were merged, and has won the FIFA Ballon d'Or each of the last two seasons, making him a three-time repeat player of the year.

Messi scored an exceptional 53 goals and tallied 24 assists across all competitions for FC Barcelona during the entirety of last season. During the first half of the 2011-12 season, Messi has scored 31 goals and racked up 14 assists in just 28 games. His Barcelona team won the league and UEFA Champions League double last season, and recently won the 2011 Club World Cup.

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FIFA Women's World Player Of The Year 2011: Homare Sawa Upsets Marta

For the first time in five years, the FIFA Women's World Player of the Year is not Brazilian superstar Marta. She has won the award every year since 2006, but thanks to Japan's wonderful performance at the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup and Brazil's early exit, a new reign has started. Women's World Cup Golden Boot and Golden Ball winner Homare Sawa has been named the World Player of the Year, breaking Marta's incredible streak.

Though some will argue that Marta's great performances in club football should have been taken into account, it's very tough to argue that FIFA did not get this one right. The World Cup almost always trumps club football when it comes to FIFA awards in both men's and women's football, and Sawa was clearly the top performer at the last World Cup. Not only did she score the most goals and win the Golden Ball, but she scored the game-winning goal in the semifinals and the game-tying goal of the final, which sent the final to penalty kicks.

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FIFA Puskas Award 2011: Neymar Wins Goal Of The Year

Brazil and FC Santos star Neymar has won the 2011 FIFA Puskas Award for the best goal of the year, as voted on by fans on FIFA.com. According to the presenter of the award, former Netherlands star Ruud Gullit, more than 3.2 million people voted on the award. Neymar won the award over Lionel Messi of Barcelona and Wayne Rooney of Manchester United. Surprised that Neymar won the award over Messi and Rooney? You shouldn't be, for two reasons. One, Brazil has a whole lot of people who like the internet. Two, just watch it.

This is not against poor competition, mind you. No, it's not against the best of the best that Rooney and Messi play against, but this is a goal in a Brasileirao match against Flamengo. They're the team that currently employs Ronaldinho, and they will be participating in the upcoming 2012 Copa Libertadores. Neymar could have had a couple of his other absurd goals nominated, and we're only going to see more of this from him in the future.

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FIFA Fair Play Award 2011: Japan Football Association Given Honor

When earthquakes and tsunamis hit Japan in March of 2011, they destroyed millions of lives and had devastating effects on infrastructure and the economy. At that point, football was the last thing on anyone's mind, but the natural disaster happened just three months before the Japan women's national football team was set to head to Germany for the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup. There were questions about whether or not they could participate in the tournament.

Not only did they participate, but as everyone knows by now, they won the tournament. The Japanese FA have done an incredible job to keep that team and the men's national team, as well as youth football and the J. League running in a difficult situation.

Here's an explanation of the award from FIFA:

The first FIFA Fair Play Award was presented in 1987, four years before the first FIFA World Player Award. Since then, the award has been bestowed upon fans of clubs and national teams, as well as upon associations and individual players. Last year, the FIFA Fair Play Award was given to Haiti's U-17 women's national team.

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FIFA Men's Coach Of The Year 2011: Pep Guardiola Of Barcelona Wins Award

When Barcelona won a double in spectacular fashion in the 2010-11 season, there was little doubt about who was going to win the FIFA Men's Coach of the Year at the Ballon d'Or gala. And yet, FIFA felt like being polite by nominating a number of manager and having three of them attend the event. Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho and Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson were named finalists, but Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola has, unsurprisingly, captured the 2011 FIFA Men's Coach of the Year award.

Though Real Madrid were able to grab the Copa Del Rey title last season, Barcelona beat them to both the La Liga and the UEFA Champions League titles. Barcelona also won one smaller competitions under Guardiola last season, capturing the Supercopa de España. During the calendar year 2011, Barcelona won another Supercopa, as well as the FIFA Club World Cup and the European Super Cup over FC Porto.

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FIFA Women's World Coach Of The Year 2011: Norio Sasaki Wins Honor

Unsurprisingly, after guiding Japan to a minor upset victory at the FIFA Women's World Cup, Japan national team manager Norio Sasaki has been named the FIFA Women's World Coach of the Year. Japan has always been respectable in women's football, but has become a team able to contend with powerhouses like the United States and Germany since Sasaki took charge.

In the year he took over the team, 2008, Japan won the East Asian Football Championships and went to the semifinals of the Beijing Summer Olympics. He guided them through World Cup Qualifying, then to the World Cup title by consecutively defeating women's football powerhouses Germany, Sweden and the United States. Homare Sawa's 117th minute equalizer in the final was arguably the highlight of the tournament, and Japan would go on to win the title against the USA on penalty kicks.

Japan will be among the favorites to capture the Summer Olympics title at the 2012 games in London under Sasaki's guidance.

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FIFA Presidential Award 2011: Alex Ferguson Honored At Ballon d'Or Gala

The FIFA Presidential Award is one that is not necessarily given to the same kind of person for the same reasons every single year. Last year, the award was given to Desmond Tutu for his efforts in helping black South Africans during Apartheid and his role in the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. This season, FIFA has decided to hand the award to a man with a much more direct role in and contribution to the game of football, Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson.

From the official FIFA website, describing the award:

Since 2001 the Presidential Award has been given to a person or institution that has made a superlative contribution to football without seeking to monopolise the limelight. The Presidential Award may be conferred in honour of one special event or a lifetime of service, or for an exemplary attitude.

Ferguson has been the manager of the Red Devils since 1986. He has won the Premier League 12 times and has won three Champions League titles. Prior to arriving at United, Ferguson won three Scottish Premier League titles and a UEFA Cup with Aberdeen. Ferguson is also up for the FIFA Men's Coach of the Year this season.

After he was handed the award, there was a video played at the ceremony where the likes of Jose Mourinho, David Beckham and Eric Cantona expressed their thoughts about Ferguson as a person, role model and football manager. You'll be stunned to learn that all of what they had to say was overwhelmingly positive.

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FIFA World XI 2011: Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo Headline The Group

The FIFA/FIFPro World XI was the first award announced at the FIFA Ballon d'Or 2011 gala, with Pele introducing the award. The World XI incredibly contained players from only three teams, though it was obvious that those three teams were the best three in the world last season. Manchester United have two representatives in the team, while four Real Madrid players and an astonishing five Barcelona players made the team.

FIFA / FIFPro World XI 2011

GK Iker Casillas; DF Daniel Alves, DF Gerard Pique, DF Sergio Ramos, DF Nemanja Vidic; MF Andres Iniesta, MF Xabi Alonso, MF Xavi; FW Cristiano Ronaldo, FW Lionel Messi, FW Wayne Rooney

The Real Madrid players were not able to attend, as they play a Copa Del Rey match away to Malaga on Tuesday. Zinedine Zidane, France and Real Madrid legend, was in attendance to collect the awards for the players who were unable to attend.

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