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Rapinoe, Messi win FIFA player of the year awards

Updated: 2019-09-24 07:54
The Best FIFA Men's Player Award Winner Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona and Argentina
speaks during The Best FIFA Football Awards 2019 at Teatro alla Scala in Milan, Italy, on Sept 23, 2019. [Photo/VCG]

MILAN — Lionel Messi won his sixth FIFA player of the year award, while Megan Rapinoe won her first at a lavish ceremony at Milan's iconic Teatro all Scala on Monday.

Rapinoe was rewarded at the FIFA Best awards for leading the United States to the women's World Cup title in July, as was Jill Ellis who won the women's coach award.

Rapinoe scored six goals in the tournament, earning her the Golden Boot for the tournament's top scorer and the Golden Ball as the top player.

The outspoken star often uses her success as a platform to speak out about issues and the 34-year-old did so again in Milan, pleading for her male and female colleagues to join the likes of Manchester City winger Raheem Sterling in speaking out on racism and other inequalities.

"If we really want to have meaningful change what I think is most inspiring would be if everybody other than Raheem Sterling and (Kalidou) Koulibaly, if they were as outraged about racism as they were, if everybody was as outraged about homophobia as the LGBTQ players, if everybody was as outraged about the lack of equal pay and investment in the women's game other than just women, that would be the most inspiring thing to me," Rapinoe said.

"That's my ask of everybody. As professional footballers ... we have so much success, we have incredible platforms, I ask everybody here to lend your platform, to lift people up, to use this beautiful game to change the world for better."

Rapinoe said after the ceremony that being able to speak out about issues is more important to her than the actual award.

"I've been very lucky to have this incredibly platform that seems to be growing by the day and I plan to use it to the best of my ability," she told reporters. "The award's amazing of course but I don't do this for individual awards, certainly not.

"Even the team awards, the World Cup's obviously incredible to win but when we sort of all look back on it, it will be the way we've changed the game and moved the game forward and really been a part of changing the world, this incredible movement that's happening right now, that we'll all be most proud of."

Messi's award moved the Barcelona and Argentina forward one ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo. The Juventus forward did not attend the ceremony despite being among the three finalists.

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