The history-making Canadian women’s soccer team could add to its legacy.
Three stalwarts of the gold-medal-winning side are up for the Ballon d’Or, presented to the world’s top soccer player — the first time Canadians have been nominated for the prestigious award.
But what is the Ballon d’Or?
Awarded by France Football magazine, the Ballon d’Or had been given out every year since 1956 until the pandemic paused it in 2020.
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The magazine only started its women’s award in 2018, when Norway’s Ada Hegerberg took the prize. American star Megan Rapinoe won in 2019.
The women’s and men’s winners will be announced Nov. 29. Journalists from around the world vote on a shortlist of 20 women and 30 men to decide the prize.
This is separate from The Best FIFA Football Awards, for which Sinclair, goalkeeper Stephanie Labbé and coach Bev Priestman are nominated. Those honours, voted on by fans, will be handed out Jan. 17, 2022.
Top Canadians up for award
Jessie Fleming (Chelsea)
Fleming’s goal off a penalty kick in a 1-0 semifinal win over the Americans in Tokyo will go down as one of the seminal moments in Canadian soccer history. (The celebration slide at the Canadian sideline was equally terrific.)
It was just the fourth time in 62 meetings that Canada defeated the U.S., and the first time since 2001. It also helped heal the wounds of the controversial 4-3 loss in the semifinals of the London 2012 Olympics.
In all, Fleming scored on three penalties at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, including two in the gold-medal game against Sweden, but more than that, she was a machine in the midfield, playing every minute of every game for the Canadians.
For club, Fleming joined a stacked Chelsea last season, winning the Women’s Super League and FA Cup.
This year, she’s playing a more prominent role, having appeared in eight games, starting four and scoring three goals.
Ashley Lawrence (Paris Saint-Germain)
At 26, the multi-positional Lawrence already has 101 caps for Canada and was one of the team’s most important players at Tokyo 2020.
A modern fullback with both technical and physical speed, she’s a threat in attack and also defends the opposition’s most dangerous players. Lawrence can also be deployed in central midfield when needed.
Canada Soccer’s player of the year in 2019, Lawrence was also part of the Paris Saint-Germain side that won a historic French league title last season.
Christine Sinclair (Portland Thorns)
What else can you say about Christine Sinclair?
Captain Canada at 38 is the oldest nominee and her lifetime accomplishments tower over the field of contenders.
She has an Olympic gold and two bronze medals as the Canadians stood on the Olympic podium back-to-back-to-back.
International football’s all-time leading scorer with 188 goals, Sinclair became the second player to score at five separate FIFA Women’s World Cups in 2019 (Brazil’s Marta is the other).
This season, she led her club team to the Women’s International Champions Cup as well as the NWSL’s Challenge Cup and Supporters’ Shield.
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Sam Kerr (Australia/Chelsea)
Kerr is a scoring machine for both club and country.
Last season with Chelsea, she scored 21 goals in 22 games as the Blues won the Women’s Super League and FA Cup.
She was also the second-leading scorer at the Olympics, with six goals as the Socceroos finished fourth, losing the bronze medal to the United States.
Jenni Hermoso (Spain/Barcelona)
Hermoso had another sensational campaign with Barcelona, winning the treble: UEFA Women’s Champions League, Primera Iberdrola and Copa de la Reina.
The 31-year-old striker was the Primera Iberdrola’s top goalscorer for the third straight year, with 33 goals and 14 assists, and she was the joint top scorer in Champions League with six.
Spain did not participate in the Olympics.
Vivianne Miedema (Netherlands/Arsenal)
Miedema scored a whopping 10 goals for the Netherlands at the Tokyo Olympics, surpassing Sinclair’s previous record of six at one Games.
The 25-year-old Arsenal striker and WSL all-time leading scorer potted 18 goals for the Gunners last year, losing out on the scoring crown to Kerr.
Alexia Putellas (Spain/Barcelona)
The UEFA Women’s Player of the Year, Putellas is probably the favourite to win the Ballon d’Or.
The 27-year-old is not only a playmaker in the midfield, as her 16 assists suggest, but she also scored 26 times last season, including a goal in the 4-0 win over Chelsea in the Champions League final.
www.cbc.ca 2021-11-26 09:00:00