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Ronaldo wins Ballon d’Or as best player in the world

Cristiano Ronaldo couldn’t hide how much it meant to him being voted the world’s best player again.

Having spent four years in the shadow of Lionel Messi, Ronaldo broke down in tears after being elected the Ballon d’Or winner for 2013 on Monday — a rare display of emotion that showed how important it was for the Portugal winger to get the trophy again.

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Ronaldo won the sport’s top individual prize for 2008, when he competed for Manchester United of England, then was upstaged by Argentine Messi in the next four years. Both play for teams in Spain, Ronaldo for Real Madrid and Messi for FC Barcelona.

“There are no words to describe this moment,” said the 28-year-old Ronaldo, crying openly while his 3-year-old son, also named Cristiano, stood at his feet. The child had just been hoisted by Brazil legend Pele to touch the golden-ball trophy as Dad gathered himself to speak in Zurich, Switzerland.

Ronaldo scored 69 goals in 59 matches for either Real Madrid or Portugal in 2013.

Voting was done by national-team captains and coaches, plus selected journalists in each FIFA member country. Ronaldo received 1,365 points, Messi had 1,205 and Frenchman Franck Ribery, a winger for Bayern Munich of Germany, got 1,127.

Pele also cried on stage when collecting an honorary Ballon d’Or for his career. The original prize, created by France Football magazine in 1956, was restricted to European players.

German goalkeeper Nadine Angerer was voted the women’s player of the year.

Arsenal leads league

Arsenal scored twice in the space of 59 seconds on its way to a 2-1 victory over Aston Villa that put the visitors back on top of the English Premier League.

Jack Wilshere’s 34th-minute score preceded a goal by teammate Olivier Giroud.

After 21 matches, Arsenal has 48 points. Manchester City has 47 points and Chelsea has 45.

Motor sports

Roma, Coma stay in front

Spaniards Nani Roma and Marc Coma kept their overall leads in the Dakar Rally.

In cars, Roma endured two punctures on the stony course from Argentina to Chile and finished sixth in the eighth stage, losing eight minutes off his lead over defending champion Stephane Peterhansel of France. Roma is ahead by 24 minutes.

Mini driver Nasser Al-Attiyah of Qatar posted the 18th stage victory of his career.

Meanwhile, Coma and other motorbike racers went from Bolivia to Chile. Cyril Despres of France won his first stage of this year’s rally. Coma leads second-place Joan Barreda Bort of Spain by 38 minutes.


Rio official faces a challenge

The army general appointed three months ago to coordinate planning for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics in Brazil compares his new job to “changing a tire on a car that’s moving.”

Major General Fernando Azevedo e Silva, named by President Dilma Rousseff to head the Olympic Public Authority, acknowledged deadlines are “very short” to prepare South America’s first Olympics.

Preparations for the Rio Games remain dogged by construction delays, financial uncertainties, environmental worries and possible public protests.

“We have one thing we can’t change, the date of the opening of the Olympics: Aug. 5, 2016,” Silva said.

Silva’s predecessor, Marcio Fortes, resigned from the position, complaining he had been marginalized.

Some fear the Rio Games will face more organizational woes than this year’s soccer World Cup in Brazil, which FIFA President Sepp Blatter has said is the “farthest behind” in his four decades of experience.

Seattle Times news services

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