Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have moved on to newer pastures, but they still reignite their old rivalry in the voting for the Dubai Globe Soccer Awards 2023 to be held in Dubai on January 19.

In the first round of public voting, football fans around the world have cast a record 27 million votes to decide the final shortlists for awards, organised in collaboration with Dubai Sports Council and presented by Nakheel. Some of the fan-selected finalists across the 20 award categories are sure to strike up hot debate — especially the star-studded XI nominated for Best Men’s Player.

The first round of public voting closed on Thursday with organisers confirming Ronaldo and Messi have dominated the voting for Best Men’s Player, alongside the likes of Manchester City’s Erling Haaland and Real Madrid sensation Jude Bellingham, who is up for a record four awards, including Best Midfielder and Power Horse Emerging Player.

Best Middle East Club

Al Nassr’s 38-year-old Ronaldo led the votes across all three categories in which he was nominated, including Fans’ Favourite Player where he faces competition on a five-man shortlist consisting of Messi, Bellingham, Al Hilal star Neymar, and Liverpool’s talismanic Mohamed Salah. In the all-new Best Middle East Player, the Portuguese forward led a shortlist that includes Al Ittihad’s Karim Benzema, Al Ahli’s Riyad Mahrez, Al Hilal’s Salem Al Dawsari and Mohamed El Shenawy of Al Ahly.

Another new award, Best Middle East Club, sees El Shenawy’s 43-time Egyptian Premier League champions joined by Saudi trio Al Nassr, Al Ittihad, and Al Hilal, as well as UAE side Shabab Al Ahli. Ahly’s Swiss manager Marcel Koller led the club to a five-trophy clean sweep in just 10 months, including a record-extending 11th African Champions League.

Manchester City's Pep Guardiola has been one of the shortlisted coaches in the Best Coach award category. Image Credit: Reuters

Unsurprisingly, Koller has been shortlisted as Best Coach alongside the likes of Real Madrid’s Carlo Ancelotti, Manchester City’s Pep Guardiola and Napoli’s Serie A winning coach Luciano Spalletti. The respective clubs of all three coaches, as well as Copa Libertadores champions Fluminense of Brazil, are each among the 10 nominations for Best Men’s Club.

Best Women’s Player, meanwhile will pit Spain’s World Cup winner Aitana Bonmatí up against, among others, Nigeria’s Asisat Oshoala and Colombia’s Linda Caicedo, as well as a trio of Women’s Super

Two new Italian categories

League stars in Mary Earps (Manchester United), Amanda Ilestedt (Arsenal), and Sam Kerr (Chelsea). Bonmatí’s Barcelona are also up for Best Women’s Club alongside Arsenal, Chelsea, Bayern Munich and Roma. Morocco’s Yassine Bounou, who represents Saudi Pro League club Al Hilal, features on a six-man shortlist that also includes Man City’s Ederson and Real Madrid’s Thibaut Courtois for Best Goalkeeper.

Two new Italian-focused categories, Serie A Best Digital Content by a Player and Serie A Best Digital Content by a Club, have also been introduced as part of an exciting new partnership between Globe Soccer and the Italian top tier. These attracted over half a million votes alone, with Roma currently in pole position for a clean sweep as Paulo Dybala leads the way in the former.

The second and final round of voting across the 11 main categories and four digital awards, plus the aforementioned Serie A awards, is now open, which closes on December 28.