Historic hat trick for Prinz; Ronaldinho retains title

The coaches and captains of national teams all around the world have chosen to place the crowns back on the heads of last year’s triumphant twosome, with Birgit Prinz (Germany) and Ronaldinho (Brazil) once again claiming the honours at the Zurich Opera House.

For the German striker, this year marked her third consecutive triumph, a unique feat in the history of the FIFA World Player Gala, which is now into its fifteenth year. Although Brazil’s Ronaldo and France’s Zinedine Zidane have both won the men’s award on three separate occasions (in 1996, 1997, 2002 and in 1998, 2000, 2003 respectively), only Birgit Prinz has completed a hat trick in three consecutive years (2003, 2004, 2005), thereby underlining her reputation as a goalscorer of the highest order.

Ronaldinho, Barcelona’s brilliant Brazilian magician, also received the ultimate personal accolade for the second consecutive year. He has enjoyed a spectacular year with both club (Spanish league champion with Barcelona) and country (FIFA Confederations Cup Germany 2005 winner with Brazil), and he will undoubtedly be one of the star turns at next year’s FIFA World CupTM in Germany. He tallied 956 points, which was enough to see off the challenge of two “new pretenders” for the FIFA World Player crown – Frank Lampard of England and Chelsea (306 points) and Barcelona team-mate Samuel Eto’o (Cameroon, 190 points).

In the women’s category, Birgit Prinz (513 points) came out on top ahead of Brazil’s Marta (429 points), who claimed second place after finishing third in the voting last year. The women’s trio was completed by the USA’s Shannon Boxx (235 points). All results are available on www.FIFA.com.

During the ceremony hosted by Lolita Morena (former Miss Switzerland turned TV presenter) and Ian Wright (former Arsenal FC footballer and now TV presenter), a number of other awards were presented. Joseph S. Blatter gave the FIFA Presidential Award to former Swedish international referee Anders Frisk, while the FIFA Fair Play Award was presented to the football community of the Peruvian city of Iquitos (see separate media releases). Finally, the FIFA Interactive World Player 2005, Chris Bullard, also received his award on stage at the Gala after winning the second FIFA Interactive World Cup in London yesterday.

This year’s FIFA World Player Gala had a “Football meets Dance” theme with dance performances by the Zurich Ballet directed by Heinz Spoerli and set to music played by the Zurich Opera House’s orchestra, which was conducted by Franz Welser-Möst.

The Gala was broadcast live or delayed in 160 countries, with 150 media representatives covering the ceremony from the Zurich Opera House.