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The Fifa president has sung the praises of the Real Madrid star ahead of the announcement of the winner of the Ballon d'Or, but hinted at his preference for Lionel Messi

Fifa president Sepp Blatter has reaffirmed his admiration for Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo, but suggested that he still prefers Barcelona's Lionel Messi.

The 77-year-old came under heavy criticism for voicing his preference for Messi, saying the Portuguese “spends more time at the hairdresser”, with several figures quick to condemn the remarks.

Blatter has since apologised for his comments and gave a ringing endorsement of Ronaldo’s talents though he stopped short of retracting his preference for Messi.

“To me, he [Ronaldo] is still an outstanding player and an outstanding commander in the field,” he said. “But obviously each of us, in our heart, has our favourite.”

Blatter also took the opportunity to stress the organisation’s stance against racism after high-profile incidents against Yaya Toure and Mario Balotelli.

“One of the main objectives of Fifa is to combat racism,” he added. “Unfortunately, racism is not a game, but a reality. Racism itself cones from our society, and not football.”

Blatter is currently serving his fourth term as Fifa president, having held the post since 1998 and winning re-election in 2002, 2007 and 2011.

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