The landscape of women’s football during this calendar year has been dominated by the FIFA Women’s World Cup Germany 2011™, and that is reflected in the recently announced shortlists for the FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year and FIFA Women’s Football Coach of the Year.
Not only did all ten of the women chosen for the player award participate in the FIFA Women’s World Cup, every single one reached at least the quarter-finals with their country, while five appeared - and four scored - in the Final.
Testament to the ever-evolving rise of women’s football is that only three players - Marta, Hope Solo and Abby Wambach - have retained their place among the top ten from last year. The 2009 edition featured just three of the current selection too, while merely two names survive from both 2007 and 2008.
Japan duo join elite
Champions Japan, who impressed the watching world with their stylish football throughout the tournament in June and July, have two nominees among the ten-woman shortlist - Aya Miyama, a goalscorer in the Final against USA, and captain Homare Sawa, who finished the competition as top scorer. The pair are aiming to break further new ground, as no Japanese player has ever won the award previously, and none were nominated in 2010.
It is their opponents from the showpiece in Frankfurt, USA, who can claim the largest representation, however, with three squad members selected. Goalkeeper Solo and forwards Alex Morgan and Wambach will be vying with each other as well as the rest of the nominees for the prestigious title.
The youngest player on the list, 22-year-old Morgan, summed up the quality among these elite women: "I'm so honoured to be put in the same category as these other nine amazing women for the FIFA Player of the Year shortlist! Congrats [to] Abby Wambach and Hope Solo on making the list as well."
France are the only other nation with more than one woman nominated, as Lyon team-mates Sonia Bompastor and Louisa Necib take a deserved place among the pack. Their club compatriot Lotta Schelin, one of Sweden’s star performers this summer, will also have her eyes on the prize.
Brazil may have left Germany at the quarter-final stage but Marta, winner of the award for the last five years, will again be a strong contender having enjoyed a fine season at club level with Western New York Flash.
Completing the set is Germany’s Kerstin Garefrekes, who will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of national legend Birgit Prinz, who won the award for three consecutive years from 2003 to 2005. Prinz is one of several veterans to miss out after years of regular nominations, with England’s Kelly Smith not among the top ten for the first time since 2004.
Competitive coaches list
Equally as competitive will be the race to become FIFA Women’s Football Coach of the Year, a prize awarded for the first time in 2010. Although the inaugural winner Silvia Neid does not feature on this occasion, last year’s runners-up Maren Meinert and Pia Sundhage do return to the running. In fact, only four people have retained their place on the shortlist, with six new faces appearing for 2011.
France again has double representation in the field, national coach Bruno Bini joining Patrice Lair, who led Lyon to league and UEFA Champions League glory this year.
Sweden also has two names on the shortlist, both of whom came so close to triumph at the FIFA Women’s World Cup. National team coach Thomas Dennerby led his side to third place, while fellow Swede Sundhage, who is in charge of USA, went one step further and finished second.
Naturally, the man who masterminded Japan’s rise to become world champions, Norio Sasaki, is shortlisted, while England’s Hope Powell, Leonardo Cuellar of Mexico, Germany U-20 coach Meinert, Tom Sermanni of Australia, and Spain U-17 coach Jorge Vilda round out the ten-strong selection.
Both shortlists will be reduced to three candidates on 5 December 2011, before each winner is announced and presented with their trophy at the second FIFA Ballon d’Or gala on 9 January 2012.
The shortlist and profiles for the FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year 2011 can be read here.
The shortlist and profiles for the FIFA Women’s Football Coach of the Year 2011 can be read here.