FIFA Women’s Player of the Year Finalists Announced


The shortlist for FIFA Women’s Player of the Year (POY) was announced on Monday. Marta (Brazil), Abby Wambach (USA), and Nadine Kessler (Germany) were selected as finalists for the FIFA award. There were mixed feelings over the news as the focus immediately shifted from who actually made the shortlist to who should’ve made the list instead. Many fans took to social media to voice their opinions.

For the most part, fans seemed disappointed in the POY candidates. This shortlist only re-emphasizes the over-all lack of attention that FIFA shows to the women’s game. Some fans called out FIFA for making their decision based on name recognition more so than skill.

While I did not follow Marta (Brazil) or Kessler (Germany) this past year, I was not surprised Marta’s name appeared on the shortlist because well—FIFA just really likes her. There is no question Marta is one of the best players in the women’s game, and she did have an impressive season in Sweden with her club team, but how much thought does the FIFA committee put in to the women’s nominations each year? At the last FIFA Ballon d’Or Gala, Wambach shared in an interview that FIFA President, Sepp Blatter mistook Sarah Huffman, as five-time FIFA Women’s Player of the Year, Marta.

"“Marta!” Blatter said, hugging a bewildered Huffman, who doesn’t look much like Marta. “You are the best! The very best!”"

I mean Huffman and Marta are both women, they have dark hair, and they are professional soccer players, but that’s about it for resemblance. You’d think FIFA’s President would know the five-time POY, or at least be able to identify her.

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Speaking of the FIFA Women’s POY, Wambach won the award in 2012 and while I am a supporter of the U.S Women’s National Team (USWNT), overall I thought she had a good performance in 2014. Was it her best year? No. Was it a year worthy of the 2014 FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year award? No.

Looking back on 2014 Wambach battled injuries in her club season, but was able to finish out the 2014 NWSL season with a total of 835 minutes,  six goals, and four assists. As of today in international competition, she tallied 14 goals for the U.S.A in 2014 with goals against: (2) vs. Russia #22, (2) vs. Korea DPR #17, (1) vs. Switzerland #18, (2) vs. Mexico #25, (1) vs. Trinidad and Tobago #46, (2) vs. Haiti #60 and (4) vs. Costa Rica #40. While rankings are not the most important factor in international competition (as demonstrated in World Cup Qualifiers this past October), it is significant that Wambach did not score against top-tier opponents, Canada #8, Japan #3, Sweden #5, or France #4, in their 2014 campaign.

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It’s no secret that Canada, Japan, Sweden and France are all teams who will be most competitive at the World Cup this summer. If Wambach could have posted these points against these opponents, I would have no problem with her nomination for the FIFA shortlist. And until FIFA starts taking the women’s game seriously, the finalists for FIFA Women’s POY will not receive the time and respect it deserves to make a fair list of candidates.

In my opinion Kessler is most deserving out of the three candidates but I am disappointed that Veronica Boquete (Spain), Louisa Necib (France) were not included in the FIFA Shortlist.

Only time will tell who will win the 2014 FIFA Women’s Player of the Year award.  The winner will be announced on January 12th, 2015 at the FIFA Ballon d’Or Gala.

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