MONACO, Aug 24, (Agencies): Cristiano Ronaldo was named UEFA Player of the Season for 2016-2017 on Thursday after a campaign which saw the Portuguese superstar help Real Madrid to the La Liga and Champions League double.
It was the third time that Ronaldo had won the award which was presented on the sidelines of the Champions League group stage draw.
His great rival Lionel Messi has won the prize on two occasions and could pave the way for him to capture a fifth Ballon d’Or title. “There are the same goals every year, to meet the same challenges, win everything if possible, qualify for the World Cup with my national team,” said Ronaldo.
“This trophy will give me the motivation to keep working hard, never to give up. I am blessed and delighted to be with Real Madrid.”
Ronaldo won the UEFA award in 2013-2014 and 2015-2016 and in the Champions League last season, where Real defeated Juventus 4-1 in the final, he finished as top scorer with 12 goals.
Juventus goalkeeper and captain Gianluigi Buffon was second in the voting ahead of Messi.
Barcelona winger Lieke Martens was named UEFA women’s Player of the Year, beating VfL Wolfsburg striker Pernille Harder and Olympique Lyon midfielder Dzsenifer Marozsan, European soccer’s governing body announced during the Champions League group stage draw in Monaco on Thursday.
Martens guided the Dutch women’s team to their first international title when they won the European championship this year. The 24-year-old was named player of the tournament.
FIFA has appointed a committee to run crisis-hit Cameroonian football as doubts grow over the country’s ability to host the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.
Cameroon is struggling to complete the necessary infrastructure projects to host the three-week event.
The organisation of the tournament has been complicated by a power struggle at the heart of the Cameroonian Football Association after Tombi Roko Sidiki’s controversial victory in the 2015 race to be chief executive was annulled by the country’s national Olympic and sports committee.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport confirmed that decision, agreeing that the electoral process had contained irregularities and FIFA said Thursday it had put in place an interim committee until new elections can be held “no later than” Feb 28, 2018.
“The Bureau of the FIFA Council has today decided to appoint a normalisation committee for the Cameroonian Football Association (FECAFOOT),” FIFA said in a statement released Wednesday.
Continental football chief Ahmad Ahmad warned this month that Cameroon was “not ready” to host the 2019 tournament, which will be expanded to 24 teams for the first time and held in June and July.
“Cameroon isn’t ready to welcome even four teams,” said Ahmad, the president of the Confederation of African Football (CAF).
That drew a pledge from Cameroonian President Paul Biya that his nation “will be ready when the day comes”.
CAF spokesman Junior Binyam said FIFA’s decision did not mean the Cameroonian federation was banned.
“It’s just the executive that is (no longer) existing,” Binyam said.
A number of countries, including Morocco and Algeria, have said they are prepared to stand in to host the 2019 Cup of Nations.
Footballers union FIFPro blasted “transfer market madness” Thursday, claiming Neymar’s world record 222 million euro ($261 million) move from Barcelona to PSG illustrated how the sport has become “the domain of a select group of rich, mostly European-based clubs”.
“FIFPro is calling on the European Commission to investigate the flow of money via transfer fees within the EU territory to understand their impact on competitive balance in the region,” said the union’s general-secretary, Theo van Seggelen.
“The world record transfer of Brazilian Neymar from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain is the latest example of how football is ever more the domain of a select group of rich, mostly European-based clubs.”
Neymar’s move caused shockwaves in the transfer market with the effects still being felt.
FIFA said Thursday it was even investigating Neymar’s complaint over an unpaid loyalty bonus from Barcelona.
Barcelona are refusing to pay a 26-million-euro bonus to Neymar for signing a five-year contract renewal last year. The Catalan giants are seeking 8.5 million euros in compensation from Neymar for breach of contract following his transfer.
“FIFPro claims an inflated and distorted market, with escalating transfer fees at the heart of it, has helped to destroy competitive balance. The transfer rules governed by FIFA are anti-competitive, unjustified and illegal,” added the players union.
“FIFPro’s legal complaint to the competition unit of the European Commission, lodged in late 2015, is designed to help rebalance football and bring an end to the transfer market madness, for the good of the game, all players, clubs and fans.”