Tonight at Zurich's Opernhaus, Portugal and Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo was named the FIFA World Player of the Year, beating out Argentina and Barcelona's Lionel Messi, Brazil and AC Milan's Kaka (the 2007 winner), Spain and Liverpool's Fernando Torres, and Spain and Barcelona's Xavi (Euro 2008's Best Player).
As he presented the award, Pele remarked that at last year's ceremony when he handed the award to Kaka, he turned and shook Ronaldo's hand, telling him "next year I'll be handing it to you."
An emotionally charged Ronaldo dedicated the award to his family, his friends, teammates, and all those involved in his career.
Perhaps FIFA was tipping its hand before it made the announcement, having the Zurich Opera perform scenes from Handel's Rinaldo just minutes prior to the final award presentation.
The World's Female Player of the Year was also named; Brazil's Marta, winning for the third year in a row.
The winners of the FIFA Best Player Awards are selected by votes from the captains of all 208 member federations' national teams.
The winners of the 2008 FIFA Fair Play Award were Armenia and Turkey, who overcame years of enmity to play each other three times in 2008, including a September World Cup qualifier attended by both heads of state. These matches set the stage for both sides to begin a reconciliation process which continues to grow.
The FIFA Presidential Award went to the US Women's National Team for their contributions to the popularity and growth of the women's game around the world (not to mention their overflowing trophy case). Heather O'Reilly accepted the award on behalf of the team.