ZURICH - Cristiano Ronaldo has won the FIFA Ballon d'Or (Golden Ball) award for 2013, ending Lionel Messi's four-year run as the world's best player.
Ronaldo scored 69 goals for Real Madrid and Portugal last year, and his stunning hat trick against Sweden in a decisive World Cup playoff was perhaps the defining individual performance.
Voting was done by national team captains and coaches, plus selected journalists, in FIFA's 209 member countries who chose their top 3 preferences. In a tight race, Ronaldo received 1,365 points, Messi had 1,205 and Bayern Munich's Franck Ribery got 1,127.
Ronaldo had to wait five years since first winning the award as a Manchester United player, as Messi found a way to overshadow him in each of the past four years - despite the Portugal winger's prolific scoring for Madrid. However, Ronaldo was heavily favored this time after FIFA extended the balloting deadline beyond the World Cup playoffs in November and allowed voters to change preferences.