Lionel Messi of Argentina and Abby Wambach of the United States were honored as FIFA players of the year.
Messi, Wambach are voted
FIFA players of the year
Lionel Messi became the first four-time winner of the FIFA Player of the Year award after shattering the world record with 91 goals last year for FC Barcelona and Argentina.
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The 25-year-old won for the fourth straight time. His 91 goals topped Gerd Mueller’s mark of 85 for Bayern Munich and West Germany in 1972.
Abby Wambach, 32, became the first American to win FIFA Women’s Player of the Year since Mia Hamm in 2001 and 2002. Pia Sundhage was voted top women’s coach after leading Wambach and the American team to the gold medal at last summer’s London Olympics.
Sundhage, 52, who left the U.S. job shortly after the Olympics to coach her native Sweden, serenaded American players from the stage with a verse of the Bob Dylan song “If Not For You” when she received her award.
Wambach got her award from U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo, a former Washington Huskies standout from Richland.
Vicente del Bosque, 62, of Spain was voted top men’s coach.
MLS teams hire coaches
Marco Schallibaum, 50, is the new coach of the Montreal Impact of Major League Soccer. The former Swiss Super League coach replaces Jesse Marsch, who guided Montreal last year — its first in the league.
Meanwhile, 35-year-old Ryan Nelsen will replace Paul Mariner as coach of Toronto FC, according to the Canadian Press. Nelsen is a former New Zealand captain.
Former Mariner Lopez signs
1-year deal to play in Japan
Infielder Jose Lopez, an All-Star for the Mariners in 2006, is headed to Japan.
He has signed with the Yomiuri Giants, a Central League team that won the 2012 Japan Series. Lopez, 29, reportedly has a one-year contract worth $911,000.
Lopez played in 15 games last season for the Chicago White Sox and batted .217; he spent most of last year in the Class AAA International League.
Berkman deal is complete
Lance Berkman, 36, is returning to his native state to be the designated hitter for the Texas Rangers. A $10 million, one-year deal was finalized after Berkman, who played for St. Louis last year, passed a physical.
Valentine accepts radio job
Bobby Valentine, fired in October after going 69-93 as manager of the Boston Red Sox, will work as a commentator for NBC Sports Radio.
Valentine will be the part-time co-host of a weekday talk show that debuts in April. Starting this month, he will periodically provide analysis to NBC Sports Radio shows and affiliated stations. Valentine was an analyst for ESPN’s “Sunday Night Baseball” in 2011.
Stanford TEs to enter draft
Stanford tight ends Zach Ertz, an All-American, and fellow redshirt junior Levine Toilolo announced plans to forgo their final seasons of eligibility and enter the NFL draft.
Other players who said they will leave school early for the draft include safety Tony Jefferson and receiver Kenny Stills of Oklahoma and Florida linebacker Jelani Jenkins.
Nevada hires Polian as coach
Nevada reached an agreement with Texas A&M assistant Brian Polian to become the Wolf Pack’s next coach under a five-year deal that will pay him $475,000 in annual base pay plus incentives if it is formally approved this week by the state Board of Regents, school officials said.
Polian, 38, replaces Hall of Famer Chris Ault, who had a 233-109-1 record and retired after 28 seasons.
• Defending champions Novak Djokovic of Serbia and Victoria Azarenka of Belarus will be the top-seeded players for the Australian Open, which starts Sunday in Melbourne.
Organizers stuck closely to the latest rankings to seed 32 players for each of the men’s and women’s draws for the year’s first major tennis tournament.
Roger Federer of Switzerland is seeded second, U.S. Open champion Andy Murray of Britain is third and David Ferrer of Spain is fourth.
On the women’s side, French Open champion Maria Sharapova of Russia is seeded second. American Serena Williams, the reigning Wimbledon, Olympic and U.S. Open champion, is the No. 3 seed and Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland is seeded fourth.
• An international jury assembled to judge disputes in the America’s Cup has found Larry Ellison‘s Oracle Team USA guilty of spying on Italy’s Luna Rossa during practice in November and docked Oracle five sailing practice days and fined it $15,000.
• Defending champion Stephane Peterhansel was back in front of the Dakar Rally in the Peruvian dunes, a day after officials rubbed out his apparent second-stage victory and overall lead.
Peterhansel finished third in the third stage from Pisco to Nazca and it was good enough to lead overall from stage winner Nasser Al-Attiyah of Qatar.
The Frenchman lost his stage win from Sunday after driver Carlos Sainz of Spain filed a complaint; race officials agreed to deduct the time Sainz lost because of a malfunctioning GPS, making him the winner of the second stage.
Seattle Times news services