The 13th FIFA World Player Gala, broadcast in over 160 countries and taking place in Basel (Switzerland) for the very first time so as to focus additional attention on the event itself as well as the “Match Against Poverty” shortly afterwards at the St Jakob Park, has ended the suspense and revealed the identities of the winners of various end-of-year FIFA awards.
As well as their love of the beautiful game, Birgit Prinz and Zinedine Zidane already share the rare honour of being crowned world champions, albeit five years apart. And from now on, the German goal-getter and the French wizard will be able to say that they have something else in common: they both won FIFA World Player of the Year titles in 2003.
This is almost becoming a habit for the Frenchman and he has equalled the record of his Real Madrid team-mate Ronaldo, who has also won the title on three occasions. Birgit Prinz on the other hand takes the laurels for the very first time. The award rounds off an extraordinary year for the striker, coming just two months after Germany’s first FIFA Women’s World Cup title following victory over Sweden in the Final in Los Angeles.
With 264 points, “Zizou” fended off the challenge of his French international team-mate, Thierry Henry (186 pts), and 2002 FIFA World Player of the Year, Brazil’s Ronaldo (176). Meanwhile, Birgit Prinz turned the tables on Mia Hamm, who had beaten her to the title last year, with a total of 268 points (compared to 133 for the American). Sweden’s Hanna Ljungberg (88 points) finished third in the vote (see www.fifa.com for a full rundown of results). 100 national team coaches cast their votes for the FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year 2003 and 142 took part in the men’s vote.
The FIFA Presidential Award 2003 was presented to the Iraqi football community, which was represented at the ceremony by the President of the Iraqi Football Association, Mohammed Hussein Saeed, the German coach of the Iraqi national team, Bernd Stange, and national team captain, Naji Husam. President Joseph S. Blatter thus underlined his admiration for the tireless devotion of all those involved in football in Iraq and also offered encouragement for the development of football in the Asian nation (click here for more details on FIFA’s support for Iraqi football). “When one of our members experiences a period as trying as that endured by Iraqi football, it is FIFA’s duty to step up its support. That is the principle of solidarity that I talk about so often, which constitutes one of the fundamental pillars of the House of FIFA. FIFA has simply acknowledged the eagerness of the entire international football family to recognise the courage of Iraq’s footballers,” Joseph S. Blatter commented.
FIFA’s campaign to promote Fair Play also had an impact on the year 2003, most notably as a result of its new slogan: “My Game is Fair Play”. In addition to these words, the year also saw numerous examples of Fair Play and one of them was nominated for the 2003 FIFA Fair Play Award. The fans of Celtic FC were therefore honoured for their extraordinarily loyal and sporting behaviour at the UEFA Cup Final in Seville, which pitted the Scottish club against FC Porto. Despite losing the match, the “Bhoys” supporters, around 35,000 of whom travelled to Spain without even having a ticket for the match, celebrated in the stands and on the streets of the Andalusian city with passion and joy, helping to further underline that football and peaceful celebration can go together hand-in-hand. The trophy was presented to Peter Lawwell, the club’s Executive Director, and Eddie Toner, a member of the Celtic FC Supporters Association.
Finally, the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking confirmed Brazil as the team of the year. The Seleçao has not been ousted from top spot in the ranking since the 2002 FIFA World Cup™ finals. The mover of the year in the 2003 ranking was the Bahrain national team. Ricardo Teixeira, President of the Brazilian football association and a FIFA Executive Committee member, Brazilian international Ronaldo, and Sheikh Ziyad Bin Faisal Al-Khalifa, a member of the executive committee of the Bahrain Football Association, accepted the respective awards at the gala.