With the focus of Europe’s leading sides this autumn has been on avoiding any slip-ups in the early stages of qualifying for the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015™, the recent announcement of the nominees for the 2013 FIFA Ballon d’Or has generated much excitement among practitioners of the women’s game. At club level there has also been plenty going on during October, as FIFA.com reveals.
Korea DPR in form
Korea DPR did not concede a single goal on their way to wrapping up the 2013 East Asian Games in Tianjin, China. Kim Kwang-Min’s charges came out on top in the group of four U-23 sides after recording three wins from three, underlining their pedigree as one of the region’s top sides. Hosts China PR finished in second with four points, ahead of Japan (three) and Chinese Taipei (one).
Former Germany striker and national team top scorer Birgit Prinz has been named the German Football Association’s new honorary team captain, becoming just the second woman behind Bettina Wiegmann to hold the distinction. The FIFA Women’s World Footballer of the Year in 2003, 2004 and 2005 was described by DFB President Wolfgang Niersbach as one of football’s “greatest ambassadors”. Prinz, now aged 35, notched an extraordinary 128 goals in 214 appearances for her country, firing Germany to Women’s World Cup titles in the USA in 2003 and China four years later. As well as Wiegmann, she joins Germany’s male recipients of the award - Fritz Walter, Uwe Seeler, Franz Beckenbauer and Lothar Matthaus – in receiving German football’s highest honour.
Landmark for Lloyd
Carli Lloyd certainly seems keen to write her name in the history books at present. The 31-year-old striker netted her 46th goal for USA as the current Olympic Champions and leaders of the FIFA/Coca-Cola Women’s World Ranking eased to a 4-1 victory over New Zealand. The veteran of 160 internationals has now climbed to ninth on the all-time list of goalscorers for the Stars and Stripes. However, she still remains some way off the magic 100-goal mark, a milestone achieved by five female US players to date: Abby Wambach (162), Mia Hamm (158), Kristine Lilly (130), Michelle Akers (105) and Tiffeny Milbrett (100).
Mixed emotions in Japan
Japan may be the current world champions at senior level but their youth sides have been grabbing the headlines of late. The U-16 side qualified for 2014’s FIFA U-17 World Cup in Costa Rica by winning the Asian Cup, and will join Korea DPR and China PR in representing the Asian Confederation at the tournament. However, the U-19s missed out on competing at the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Canada next year, despite finishing third as hosts last year, leaving Korea Republic, Korea DPR and China PR to fly the Asian flag in Canada.
Excitement building in Europe's premier club competition
The last 32 of the UEFA Women’s Champions League produced goals aplenty and convincing victories to boot, with many of the big names already safely through to the Round of 16. Two of those clubs are former winners Turbine Potsdam and Olympique Lyon, who will meet in November in repeats of the finals in 2010 and 2011. Last season’s title-winners VfL Wolfsburg will also have their work cut out against Swedish champions FRC Malmo.
Arsenal back on track
The wounds may not yet have fully healed, but Arsenal have at least begun to banish the demons of having to relinquish their league crown to Liverpool after nine consecutive title triumphs. The London club managed to add another piece of silverware to their trophy cabinet after a 2-0 success against Lincoln Ladies, with goals from Ellen White and Kim Little ensuring the Gunners lifted the FA WSL Continental Cup for the third year running.
Simon blow for Matildas
Kyah Simon will miss the next 12 months after tearing a cruciate knee ligament in a 4-0 friendly defeat to the USA in San Antonio, Texas. Simon admitted it was "a huge setback" but remained positive about her chances of recovering in time to feature at Canada 2015. "I'm looking forward and I want to come back stronger than ever," said the scorer of two goals at the last Women's World Cup.
7 – Kari Seitz has officiated at four Women’s World Cups (USA 1999, USA 2003, China 2007 and Germany 2011), and three Women’s Olympic Football Tournaments (Athens 2004, Beijing 2008 and London 2012), a feat managed by no other referee, male or female. Now, however, at the age of 42, one of football’s most loved personalities has announced her retirement.
“I’ve known Kari for over 20 years. She is a unique referee who has been involved in the game for a very long time. She hasn’t just been there to make up numbers, though. She’s been both prominent and successful, both nationally and internationally, and for that reason she’ll be envied by all referees - male and female - across the world. Everyone is familiar with what she’s done on the pitch, but it’s what she’s achieved off it that is so remarkable and outstanding. She has been a true idol. Kari was always so engaged, motivated and professional. She always wanted to be the best and she took every single step as seriously as the last. Her athleticism, reliability and extraordinarily positive attitude turned her into a role model very quickly. Kari was able to consider every situation as an opportunity, and she used each one as a way of learning something. We will certainly miss her on the field, but we’re delighted to be able to welcome her to her next challenge: supporting young boys and girls in their careers as referees. Every one of them can profit from her experience. Great work, Kari! You have every reason to feel proud.” Sonia Denoncourt (Head of women's referees, FIFA Refereeing Department) on Kari Seitz, one of football's most loved personalities who recently announced her retirement.