The night of 12 January 1998 proved to be a festival of records and premieres. Having won the coveted FIFA prize last year, Ronaldo became the first player ever to repeat that success.
And the votes, cast by national coaches from all over the world, could not have spelled out a more decisive message: with a total of 480 points, Ronaldo was no fewer than 415 ahead of his nearest rival, countryman Roberto Carlos. There has never been a landslide victory like this in the seven years the award has been held. And the voters themselves also established a record - with 121 coaches voicing an opinion, last year's total of 120 was just topped.
The 90-minute show was broadcast live all over Europe and beyond by Eurosport, and thus TV coverage set new records. And for the first time the gala was run in conjunction with the International Hall of Champions, which FIFA also supports.
Once again Brazil won the award for the best team, accepted on behalf of the Brazilian Association by President Ricardo Texeira. This prize was based on the FIFA-Coca-Cola ranking list for the year. Yugoslavia carried off the prize for Best Mover of the Year.
As chairman of the FIFA Fair Play Committee, Lennart Johansson awarded diplomas to Jozef Zovinec of Slovakia for his exemplary career of 60 years in amateur football without a single yellow card, and to Julie Foudy for her efforts against child labour. Finally, the Fair Play Trophy went to the Irish supporters for their exemplary behaviour, especially during the FIFA World Cup play-off against Belgium last autumn. Caroline Hanlon accepted the award and the diploma on their behalf.