Ballon d’Or is the most prestigious individual award given to male and female players in football. This year the ceremony will take place on October 30 in Paris, France.
Last week’s Football Now episode discussed the men’s prospects. This week we take a look at the women’s award nominees.
It has been another groundbreaking year for the development of women’s football. The 2023 World Cup held in Australia and New Zealand was a huge success. Many see the tournament as a turning point for the sport. Spain became world champions by defeating England 1-0 in Sydney.
It was also a successful year for Spanish football at club level. Barcelona won the league and the European double by defeating Wolfsburg in the women’s Champions League final in Eindhoven. Barcelona were 2-0 down at half-time, but goals from Patricia Guijarro and Fridolina Rolfö secured a historic comeback.
A good performance at the World Cup will affect the Ballon d’Or candidates and the situation is no different in the men’s 2022 Qatar World Cup. Lionel Messi and Erling Haaland are expected to compete for the Best Player of the Year award. Spain’s women’s team received five nominations for its victory in Oceania, although it was overshadowed by off-field antics. Despite these problems, the team was successful in Australia.
La Liga TV presenter Semra Hunter told Football Now how progress in the game at club level has positively impacted the national team.
“I think the FA would be happy to say that they are the reason Spain won the World Cup, but almost anyone who follows women’s football in Spain closely will tell you that’s not actually the case,” Semra said.
“It’s actually the opposite. At club level things have progressed and improved so much over the last few years that it’s really had a spillover effect. So I think it’s a really great reflection of Spanish football.”
Let’s take a look at the full list of Ballon d’Or Feminin candidates and who is worthy to take the crown.
Spain’s Aitana Bonmatí tops the list after winning Liga F and the Women’s Champions League with Barça, while also being a key component of Spain’s World Cup-winning midfield.
Her compatriot Alexia Putellas won the award two years in a row. However, he has been plagued by injuries, which has allowed Bonmatí to develop in a similar position. Aitana also won the FIFA Best Player of the Year and World Cup Player of the Tournament awards on an individual basis in 2023.
BBC correspondent Emma Sanders tells Football Now that Bonmatí is the standout selection for this year’s Ballon d’Or Feminin.
“I saw Bonmatí play live at the Nou Camp at the end of last season and it was one of the best live individual performances I have seen in the women’s game. She is very creative. She sees passes that no one else can see.”
“I’m so convinced he’s the best player in the world I don’t even believe it needs a vote!”
There are 29 more names on the list. Defeated World Cup finalists England have four contenders; these include midfielder Georgia Stanway and goalkeeper Mary Earps.
Sam Kerr was the face of Australia’s World Cup campaign despite starting the tournament with an injury. She scored one of the best goals of the entire tournament against England in the semi-final, but it wasn’t enough for the Matildas to progress.
Meanwhile, Alexandra Popp, 32, shows no signs of slowing down. Last season Frauen scored 31 goals in the Bundesliga and also scored once in the Champions League final.
Also, an honorable mention should be given to Linda Caicedo from Colombia. At 18, he is the youngest player on the list and the breakout star of this summer’s World Cup.
This is a fantastic achievement for all the actors nominated for this award. But if Bonmatí is to be named the Best Women’s Player of the Year in Paris, she will have truly earned it after a spectacular year on the pitch.