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Football - 24. December 2007.

Brace for Marta

Brazilian duo Kaká and Marta are the FIFA World Player and FIFA Women's World Player for 2007. The two stars received their prestigious awards at the 17th FIFA World Player Gala at the Zurich Opera House on 17 December 2007. Whereas Kaká was making his debut at the FIFA World Player Gala, Marta has successfully defended the crown she won last year.

Kaká's triumph is most notably due to his outstanding performances for AC Milan, with whom he won this year's UEFA Champions League. The attacking midfielder reaped 1,047 points in the vote, in which the coaches and captains of 165 national teams took part. Second place was claimed by Argentina's Lionel Messi on 504 points, with Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo third on 426. Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo were also making their first appearances at the FIFA World Player Gala.

In the women's vote, Marta (988 points) comfortably won ahead of Birgit Prinz (507) - FIFA Women's World Player in 2003, 2004 and 2005 - and another first-time nominee, Brazil's Cristiane (150). The coaches and captains of 137 national teams cast their vote for the women's award. An overview of the results can be found on www.FIFA.com .

Further awards were conferred at the 17th FIFA World Player Gala, which was hosted by TV presenters Arabella Kiesbauer (Austria) and Rainer Maria Salzgeber (Switzerland) and broadcast live or as a delayed transmission in approximately 140 countries around the world. FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter presented Pelé (a living Brazilian legend, FIFA's Player of the Century, three-time world champion and a man with more than 1,000 goals to his name) with the FIFA Presidential Award in recognition of his outstanding services to the game. Barcelona, a club that has always rejected lucrative shirt sponsorship deals, won the FIFA Fair Play Award. Since last year, the club's scarlet-and-blue shirts have carried the UNICEF logo and over a five-year period, "Barça" will be donating a total of EUR 7.5 million to HIV/AIDS projects run by the United Nations' Children's Fund.

During the course of the gala, which also featured a number of performances from famous musicals, FIFA also presented diplomas to the best players of the FIFA U-17 World Cup Korea 2007 (Germany's Toni Kroos), the FIFA U-20 World Cup Canada 2007 (Argentina's Sergio Agüero) and the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Rio de Janeiro 2007 (Brazil's Buru).

It was also announced today that Argentina were the top team in 2007 according to the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking, followed by Brazil and Italy. Mozambique claimed the Best Mover award ahead of Norway and New Caledonia.

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