On Monday evening in Zurich, the player many consider to be the finest exponent of the women's game made history by winning a record fourth consecitive FIFA Player of the Year award. The star in question was of course Marta, who told FIFA.com after the ceremony that "it was truly an historic moment". * *
In our latest roundup from the women's game, you can catch up on our pick of the news stories from December, find out which trophy Marta and her team-mates held aloft this month, and discover some of the countries to watch at the FIFA Women's World Cup 2011™ to be hosted by reigning champions Germany.
Club footballBrazil: *Santos celebrate*
*After securing victory in the Copa Libertadores, Santos have added the Copa do Brasil to their trophy cabinet. The club which boasts both Marta and her no less feted *Seleção team-mate Cristiane defeated Botucatu 3-0 in the final, with the FIFA World Player scoring twice and her strike partner grabbing the other. It was a welcome turnaround in Marta's club fortunes, the 23-year-old having managed no better than a championship runners-up medal with former club Los Angeles Sol in the United States' WPS league.
Germany: Frankfurt no longer setting the standards
With such established players as Birgit Prinz, Nadine Angerer and Kerstin Garefrekes as well as the new star of Germany's forward line Dszenifer Marozsan, everyone expected Frankfurt once again to make the running in this year's Bundesliga. To everyone's surprise, however, the first half of the season has seen Turbine Potsdam and 2001 Duisburg emerge as the main title aspirants, the latter securing 10 wins and two draws to remain unbeaten thus far in the championship. Things have gone from bad to worse for the three-time UEFA Cup and seven-time Bundesliga winners, who were dumped unceremoniously out of the German Cup last Saturday, slumping to a 3-0 defeat in Potsdam, for whom Fatmire Bajramaj is emerging as the new darling of the crowds.
USA: *Atlanta pick up Bachmann*
WPS outfit Atlanta Beat pulled off the transfer deal of the year when they signed Swiss international Ramona Bachmann. The 18-year-old attacker has been a leading player on the European stage for a while now and had spent the last two seasons at top Swedish club Umea IK, helping them to an impressive haul of silverware in both domestic and continental competitions. "I really believe that the WPS will be the best women's football league in the world in 2010," said Bachmann on the official website of her new club. "Atlanta Beat are looking to become the best team in the world and, since it is my aim to become the best player in the world, it's an honour for me to play with them."
National teamsEurope: Sorting the best from the rest*
*12 teams are taking unbeaten records into the New Year in the European qualifiers for the FIFA Women's World Cup 2011, including a number of surprise packages who will also be hoping to make the play-offs, namely Belarus, Scotland, Hungary, Spain, Russia and Finland. In three of the eight groups, things could hardly be closer, particularly as only the winners will qualify. Poland and the surprisingly strong Hungarians are neck and neck, as are Spain and England and Italy and Finland. France, Norway, Denmark and Sweden meanwhile have all but booked their play-off places in what appear to be less daunting groups.
For more information on qualifying for the FIFA Women's World Cup 2011, please click on the corresponding tournament link in the right-hand menu bar. You will then find "Matches" as well as "Groups and Standings" in the left-hand navigation.
South America: *Brazil underline their superiority*
The FIFA World Cup runners up and double Olympic silver medallists will need every advantage they can muster if they are to go one step further at the forthcoming FIFA Women's World Cup in Germany. One thing they will not be short on though, is confidence. Just a few days before Marta was voted best women's footballer of the year, she and her Brazilian team-mates cruised to victory in the international women's football tournament in Sao Paulo. They defeated Chile, Mexico and China PR in the four-team competition, and then beat Mexico in the final 5-2 in front of no fewer than 25,000 fans in the Pacaembu Stadium, with Marta bagging a hat-trick.
The quotes"What's really incredible is seeing so many people looking so delighted. Women's football has become unbelievably popular in Brazil. It's actually become a reality."
Brazil's Marta after their victory in the final in Sao Paulo
"Football has become the number one sport for girls and women."
Germany coach Silvia Neid talking about women's football in her country