Aitana Bonmatí and Lionel Messi have been named the 2023 Ballon d’Or winners at the annual football awards ceremony in Paris.
Bonmatí was widely considered the favourite after being named player of the tournament as Spain won their first World Cup and she was part of the Barcelona Femení team that won the continental treble, scoring 118 goals and conceding just 10 in the league. Bonmatí beat Chelsea and Australia striker Sam Kerr into second place, with her Spain and Barcelona team-mate Salma Paralluelo coming third.
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On the day the former Spanish FA chief Luis Rubiales was banned from football activities for three years by the Fifa disciplinary committee after an investigation into his conduct at the Women’s World Cup final, Bonmatí chose to thank her family, teammates and the Barcelona president, Joan Laporta, for their role in her success and said the football world has responsibility as “role models” to fight for equality.
“We have a responsibility on and off the pitch,” Bonmatí said. “We should be more than athletes. Keep leading by example and keep fighting together for a better, peaceful and equal world.”
England’s Rachel Daly, Georgia Stanway, Millie Bright and Mary Earps were on the shortlist for the women’s award following their run to the World Cup final but were unable to attend because of international commitments.
Earps finished highest among the England players in fifth, with Daly 10th and Bright directly behind her in 11th, Stanway finished 23rd, one place above her former teammate the Jamaica international Khadija Shaw.
Messi’s World Cup‑winning campaign with Argentina made him the favourite and he was on hand to receive his record eighth award on what would have been the 63rd birthday of the legendary compatriot Diego Maradona. The Inter Miami owner, David Beckham, handed the forward the award.
Messi’s victory puts Argentina at the top of the rankings of wins by country (eight), ahead of France, Germany, Netherlands and Portugal with seven.
Messi said: “I couldn’t imagine having the career that I’ve had. Everything that I’ve achieved. The fortune I’ve had playing for the best team in the world, the best team in history. It’s nice to win these individual trophies. To win the Copa America and then the World Cup, to get it done is amazing.”
Jude Bellingham collects the Kopa trophy. Photograph: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images
The England midfielder Jude Bellingham, who came 18th in the overall vote, said there was “more to come” as he won the Kopa trophy for the best under-21 male player claiming 15 goals and eight assists for Borussia Dortmund last season, having begun life at his new club Real Madrid in dazzling form.
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Erling Haaland, who scored a remarkable 52 goals for Manchester City last season, won the Gerd Müller trophy and came second in the proceedings, with Kylian Mbappé in third, and Haaland’s teammates Kevin De Bruyne and Rodri in fourth and fifth respectively.
The Sócrates prize to acknowledge humanitarian work championed by a footballer was handed to Vinícius Jr, who also placed sixth for the men’s award, by Prince Albert II of Monaco for the Real Madrid forward’s organisation, instituto Vini Jr, which provides opportunities for underprivileged Brazilian youngsters. Accepting the award, the winger paid tribute to late Brazil legend Pelé, calling him “a God for all of us”.
The winner of the Lev Yashin trophy was Emiliano Martínez. His father Alberto handed him the award after the goalkeeper’s heroics during Argentina’s victorious World Cup campaign.