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Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012

Messi receives Golden Boot for record haul of 50 Spanish League goals


BARCELONA, Spain — Barcelona forward Lionel Messi was presented with his second Golden Boot award on Monday in recognition for scoring the most goals in Europe's domestic leagues last season.

News photo
Honored again: Lionel Messi poses with the Golden Boot, signifying the top scorer in Europe's domestic leagues last season, at a ceremony in Barcelona on Monday. AP

The 25-year-old Messi scored a Spanish-League record 50 goals for Barcelona, edging out fellow Spanish League star Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid by four goals.

Messi dedicated the award to his teammates, with Xavi Hernandez and Carles Puyol present for the ceremony in Barcelona.

"It is a prize for scoring goals, but without my teammates I couldn't have scored them," Messi said. "I share this award with them as I always do.

"I don't fight for individual awards, I fight for titles. My goals are reclaiming the league crown, winning the Copa del Rey and the winning the Champions League again. Those are my goals, team goals."

The Argentina international won his first Golden Boot in 2010 for his 34 goals that helped Barcelona win the league title.

Messi is among the favorites to win the 2012 Ballon d'Or for the world's best player.

"We won't see another player like him, and if we do, it won't be for a very long time," said Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova. "It's not just for the goals he scores, but for how he sees and understands the game, that is what makes him so great. On Saturday, he ran 50 meters to defend a corner in the 89th minute with a 5-0 lead. Not many players would have done that."

Luis Suarez Miramontes, the former Spain international and 1960 Ballon d'Or winner, presented the award.

Messi, nicknamed "The Flea" for his uncanny ability to dribble through defenders, has shattered a number of records over the past year.

He scored an unprecedented 73 goals in all competitions for Barcelona last season, breaking the previous European club record of 67 goals set by Bayern Munich's Gerd Mueller in 1972-73 and the prior world club mark of 70 established by Archie Stark of Bethlehem Steel in the American Soccer League in 1924-25.

In March, Messi passed Cesar Rodriguez's 57-year-old milestone of 232 goals to become Barcelona's all-time leading scorer. He also scored a European Cup-record-tying 14 goals in the Champions League, where he netted a record five goals in one game.

Messi has scored 17 goals in all competitions to start this season, and has his sights set on yet another milestone he is sure to reach very soon. He is just two goals away from equaling Brazil great Pele's feat of 75 goals for club and country in one calendar year, set in 1958.

"Obviously, it's an honor to be close to the numbers of a person who is so important to football," Messi said. "But, again, they are only statistics."

Police, F.A. probe ref claim


LONDON — Just as English soccer was slowly recovering from a divisive, yearlong racism saga, the Premier League has been plunged into renewed controversy.

And, yet again, the accusation being leveled is linked to racism — a problem thought to have been largely eradicated from English soccer in the 1990s.

The new allegation appears unprecedented for the world's richest soccer league: Chelsea claims the referee used "inappropriate language" toward two players in the globally televised Premier League match against Manchester United on Sunday.

Midfielder John Obi Mikel is believed to be one of the players who Chelsea say was targeted by referee Mark Clattenburg, whose language has reportedly been interpreted as being racially offensive.

It is now being looked at by London's police force after a complaint by the head of the Society of Black Lawyers.

"This is now being considered," the Metropolitan Police said in a statement. "Officers from Hammersmith & Fulham borough have been in contact with Chelsea."

No one at Chelsea reported the incident to the police, but the European champions complained to the English Football Association.

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