Abby Wambach wins FIFA Women’s Player of the Year

Liviu Bird January 7, 2013 37

U.S. women's national team forward Abby Wambach wins the FIFA Women's Player of the Year Award for 2012. (Screenshot: FIFA stream)

For the first time in over a decade, an American won the FIFA Women’s Player of the Year. Abby Wambach took the award over fellow nominees Alex Morgan and Marta, becoming the first American since Mia Hamm in 2002 to win it.

Wambach received 20.67 percent of the overall vote, while Marta garnered 14 percent and Morgan 11 percent.

“They told me to prepare a speech, but I really didn’t expect this,” Wambach said as she got up on stage.

American goalkeeper Hope Solo joined FIFA president Sepp Blatter in presenting the 2012 Women’s Player of the Year Award. She ended up presenting it to one of her own teammates.

“I really didn’t expect this. Thanks to FIFA and President Blatter for having us. Pia (Sundhage), coaching staff and the medical staff as well, thank you,” Wambach said. “Most importantly, winning any individual award is a total product of the team that you play for. I’ve never scored a goal without receiving a pass from somebody else. Thanks to all the fans out there who continue to inspire me and the rest of the team to win as many games as we can.”

Wambach acknowledged her co-nominees, especially Morgan, her strike partner with whom she shares the goalscoring burden on the U.S. team.

“It’s almost as if when you score, I need to score, and when I score, you need to score,” Wambach said. “It makes us a better team.”

In 2012, Wambach closed in on Hamm’s national team goalscoring record, which stands at 158 goals. Wambach is on 152 goals as of today.

In addition to Wambach winning the women’s Ballon d’Or, former U.S. women’s coach Pia Sundhage won the Women’s Coach of the Year Award. In typical Sundhage fashion, she sang during her acceptance speech (“If Not For You” by Olivia Newton John), which drew on-camera laughs from Wambach and Morgan.

Full analysis and discussion to follow on The Equalizer later today.

  • Weston John

    Congratulations to Wambach! Both Morgan & Wambach would have been deserving recipients of the award. It’s great to see Wambach receive this award after being at the top of the game for so long. I am shocked that Wambach and Morgan only received 31% of the vote combined. 69% of voters voted for a different player. Looking forward to seeing the breakdown of the voting. Marta (2 international goals) beating Morgan (28 international goals/21 assists) in the voting is a felony. But, focusing on the positive, Wambach certainly had a season worthy of this award. Now let’s get these players allocated in the NWSL and let’s get the 2013 season started!

    • Steglitz49

      Your point is well taken. One can simplest explain how could Bini came 3rd in the manager poll, by assuming that the 4th and fifth was narrowly behind. Soon we shall have the answers.

      On the player side I had expected that Miyama would be one of the 3 with most votes, but she was not. I was not surprised that Ms Sinclair did not make it. Again her exact figures would be interesting. They may be lower than many expect.

  • luke

    Abby won and that’s what’s important! Voting outcome from second place down is a crime agst logic, common sense and women soccer, but Abby won! :)

  • Steglitz49

    Congratulations to Abby and Pia. Two great ladies of football.

  • Weston John

    Grant Wahl has some explaining to do, not picking Alex Morgan in his top 3. Especially after his concern that Marta would win due to “uninformed” voters. Wahl picked (1) Wambach, (2) Sinclair, (3) Lloyd. Lloyd over Morgan? Lloyd’s 2012 stats 15 goals/1 assist versus Morgan’s 28 goals/21 assists. If you just focus on the Olympics, Lloyd 4 goals/0 assist versus Morgan 3 goals/4 assists. Lloyd had a brilliant final in the Olympics…the game-winner set up by Morgan’s pass….and the 2nd goal which was a rocket. But, did Lloyd have a better 2012 than Morgan? C’mon, man.

    • Steglitz49

      Abby got the gong so let’s celebrate and congratulate her.

      Next year it will be hard for Alex to win the award seeing that USA does not compete in major tournaments and the NWSL is only just getting going. All focus will be on Euro-13. Maybe Megan Rapinoe, who has taken the Lyon €uro could get it, or Averbuch or Levin?

      • Weston John

        Next year will be interesting…Maybe Anja Mittag emerges as a candidate as she has a chance to shine in Euros and with Malmo…

        • Steglitz49

          Verily.

          Wolfsburg have some useful lasses too. Maybe FIFA will nominate Averbuch, Hagen or Horan to keep the USA right if not content? Do you expect Miyama to be nominated again?

    • Kernel Thai

      The question about Grant Wahl is why he has the vote and wouldnt it be better served in the hands of a journalist who specializes in Women’s football. The fact that Christie Rampone had Morgan 1st and Jill Ellis had her 2nd speaks volumes.

      • Allie

        Sermanni (who voted as the coach of Australia) also selected Morgan first. Sinclair second, Wambach third.

  • Chris

    Grant Wahl doesn’t have a clue. He has Lloyd over Morgan. That’s ridiculous!

  • Kernel Thai

    There were a lot of amazing things looking at the numbers. Sinclair, who ended up 5th was only the 7th most popular in the coach’s vote. Lloyd was 2nd in the media vote. Morgan had a 4th and two 5ths on the three lists yet still managed 3rd overall. Morgan beat Sawa for 3rd place by only .02 % but .37% of the votes were thrown out due to error which prolly would have effected 3rd place.

    • Steglitz49

      The media, Kernel, the media. They favored some. An interesting pattern.

      • Kernel Thai

        Or…they based their vote on the only game they saw…the gold medal game…assuming they didnt just base it on the headline of the gold medal game :)

        • Steglitz49

          The time has come, the Walruss said, to talk of many things, such as that Brazil did not play in the final. Verily they were knocked out in the QF by Japan, yet no Japanese lady made the final three. Brazil is still the strongest brand name in soccer as witness spectator numbers at the Olympic games.

          Worse, only Ms Rapinoe scored less than Miyama among the media, while Ms Sinclair did as well as Marta. That the coaches were not so favorable to Ms Sinclair stands to reason. That is the way the cookie crumbles.

          Nevertheless, the records are clear: Miyama World Champion (which is what matters) and olympic silver while Sinclair an olympic bronze.

  • Allie

    So apparently the media LOVES Carli Lloyd…by my count, she got 9 first place votes from the reporters, second only to Abby Wambach. Alex Morgan only got five first place votes from the media. By my rough estimate of the voting totals (I tried to count but my numbers are probably off a little bit), Pinoe was a distant last place, while Carli Lloyd was second-last (the media votes put her ahead easily, since she and Pinoe were actually pretty close when it came to the Captain and Coach votes).

    I thought Christine Sinclair would fair a little better…alas, I think the media did her in there. Only one first place vote, with ten second place and five third place. She did fairly well among the Captains and Coaches – 10 first,16 second,and 18 third; and then 5 first,16 second, and 15 third place votes respectively. By my rough count, she placed fifth overall. Feel free to correct me, I’m sure I was off.

    • Steglitz49

      There is a whiff of something about the media’s preferences. All the Japanese players fared badly and Rapinoe got hardly any support. The media took Morgan past Sawa by shovels and spades. The media also took Sinclair past Miyama.

      The media also took Pia Sundhage past Norito Sasaki. That the media should decide that one I had not expected. The media also gave Bini his 3rd place.

  • http://twitter.com/rialta96 maureen mcquillan

    Credit Dylan with “If Not For You”.

  • LetsGetReal

    No matter how you cut the votes. ABBY IS THE PURE WINNER!!!

    Here is my breakdown. I think it’s absolutely stupid to have Media vote. PERIOD. How often does Grant Wahl even WRITE about womens soccer? Also how can a country that’s NOT EVEN RANKED!!!!!!! in FIFA RANKINGS vote?????? There’s 8 countries in that list. Also why didn’t FIFA make North Korea vote? That’s not Fair Play! Also rather pathetic that several countries in top 50 didn’t vote (Thailand, Argentina, Chinese Taipei, Papua New Guinea)

    Also I think something should be said for the Top 25 Ranked Countries Coach/Captain Votes (excludes North Korea)

    Here is the breakdown, hopefully my excel paste job makes sense. Also this shows how Marta is honestly living off the stupid countries outside the top 25 more so top 50 and how Sinclair got jipped.

    Name First Points Second Points Third Points Total Points
    “Wambach Abby
    ” 90 24 5 119
    “Sinclair Christine
    ” 40 24 11 75
    “Morgan Alex
    ” 35 21 4 60
    “Sawa Homare
    ” 25 12 2 39
    “Lloyd Carli
    ” 20 9 8 37
    “Miyama Aya
    ” 15 18 2 35
    “Abily Camille
    ” 5 15 4 24
    Rapinoe Megan 0 15 5 20
    “Marta
    ” 5 3 4 12
    “Fukumoto Miho
    ” 5 3 3 11

    Even Look at this same analysis, but for the top 50 ranked teams, its even worse showing these teams 50+ are stupid.

    Name 1st Points 2nd Points 3rd Points Total
    “Wambach Abby
    ” 140 42 12 194
    “Sinclair Christine
    ” 55 39 15 109
    “Morgan Alex
    ” 45 39 8 92
    “Sawa Homare
    ” 50 18 8 76
    “Abily Camille
    ” 30 36 9 75
    “Miyama Aya
    ” 35 27 5 67
    “Marta
    ” 25 21 10 56
    “Fukumoto Miho
    ” 35 9 5 49
    “Lloyd Carli
    ” 20 12 9 41
    “Rapinoe Megan
    ” 5 21 7 33

    • Steglitz49

      I am not sure what point you are trying to make but in any case, Miyama is a better example than Sinclair.

      If your point is that representatives from small countries far away of which we know nothing have an equal vote to the brave and the free, is that not the definition of democracy? What reason have you to presume that those people would not be voting in an informed way?

      There are few sports persons that everyone agrees is the greatest. Because it is winter let’s stick to skiing. The greatest technical alpine skier of all time is Stenmark. They changed the rules to stop him winning but he still won. Turning to women’s biathlon it is easy because they are both called Magdalena. Cross-country skiing is harder: you pays your money and you makes your choice. Do you prefer Jernberg, Svan, Daehlie, Cologna or Northug? Others would root for Gustafsson. It is a matter of taste.

      • randomhookup

        It has to be extremely difficult to be an informed voter on women’s football, even if you are in Europe. You can only guarantee seeing the Olympics and the Champions League. Certainly those in countries much further away who have full-time jobs outside of soccer can’t keep up. Even the informed fans fight over league vs. Olympics vs. national team play.

        It’s almost impossible to see any women’s league play in the US and writeups are usually incomplete or translated through Google. I don’t know how someone in other parts of the world can even get close to understanding what’s going on without relying on the eyes of others.

        But, it’s how FIFA wants to do it. Perhaps seeing Marta as #2 on this list is the result of a flawed system.

        • Steglitz49

          I have never been a friend of these awards though I understand why they exist. If they did not exist, maybe they would have to be invented?

          The Swedish daily paper Svenska Dagbladet started to award its goldmedal (popularly known as the “feat-gold”) in 1925 and the first woman got it in 1960. The sports editors/writers decide. In 1979 Swedish Radio introduced the Jerring-prize, which is voted for by the people. The recipients of either prize make interesting reading. The people do not always agree with the (so-called) experts. No woman footballer has ever received either of these awards.

          Germany has a male and female sports-personality of the year, and a unisex for teams. No German woman soccer player has received it but in the category of teams the German ladies NT football got the team award in 2003 and 2009. A committee choses.

          As regards analyzing the FIFA votes, the old statistical saying that “if you torture the data long enough, eventually it will confess” applies.

          • Kernel Thai

            What FIFA needs to do is a better job on the ballot. For the 10 women and 23 men at least they need to include a dvd with a nice 5 minute highlight package for each nominee. Include their stats for the year for tournaments, friendlies and club. On the women’s side, it mostly goes on name recognition.

          • Steglitz49

            Zlatan is credited with changing the Swedish language. His expression of “sometimes it is post in and sometimes post out” has entered the language and is used in many and various situations political as well as sports. It is used in biathlon where the commentators say a shot was “edge in” or “edge out”. It is alleged that Zlatan once said that “it does not matter what we do because Stenmark will always be the greatest”. For the ladies we may have to say “Magdalena”, which would work for Germany as well as Sweden, and a number of other countries as well..

            The soccer media’s voting carried quite some weight and overruled the experts several times in the ladies’ part, several not insignificant.

  • LetsGetReal

    Even Look At Top 10 Ranked Teams, It’s Still the Abby, Sinclair, Morgan show…

    Name First Pts Second Pts Third Points TOTAL
    “Wambach Abby
    ” 35 6 1 42
    “Sinclair Christine
    ” 15 9 3 27
    “Morgan Alex
    ” 15 9 2 26
    “Miyama Aya
    ” 10 9 1 20
    “Lloyd Carli
    ” 10 3 2 15
    Rapinoe Megan 0 6 4 10
    “Abily Camille
    ” 0 6 2 8
    “Sawa Homare
    ” 5 0 1 6
    “Fukumoto Miho
    ” 0 3 1 4
    Marta 0 3 1 4

    • Steglitz49

      Everyone agrees that Abby won fair and square.

      We have also taken on board your conclusion that the world is an unfair place.

      The most disturbing pattern is the voting by the media. There is a whiff of something there.

  • http://twitter.com/JeffKassouf Jeff Kassouf

    I think everyone needs to ease up on Grant. He knows his stuff and was one of the chief journalists on site for the Women’s World Cup and Olympics (and he’s covered multiple). Grant is top notch.

    • Weston John

      Jeff:
      What is your opinion of who had the better year between Lloyd and Morgan?
      Who do you see in your crystal ball as the 2013 POY? The trend from the last 2 years seems to be success in major tournament (on both a team and individual level) leads to the POY award. That said, I would think the Euros will dictate the POY unless someone has a ridiculous club season.

      • Steglitz49

        While Jeff polishes his crystal ball, I will put in my two cents worth. FIFA may want to consider increasing the number of ladies nominated to 12 or even 15. FIFA likely will lay a puzzle and create a patchwork quilt of players who played well in the CL and Euro-13. The big headache for FIFA is that the top ladies are spread all over the globe while the men essentially play in Europe these days. Finally, FIFA needs to educate the media-voters seeing that they pass over or are ignorant of players of certain groups.

    • Kernel Thai

      No one is say Grant doesnt know soccer. What we’re saying is if Grant is standing in the center of the room and Messi walks in one door and Wambach the opposite door, he’s gonna talk to Messi first. I personally thought Lloyd had a great Olympics, and not just scoring. BUT, u take Morgan off that team and there back to the WWC team that couldnt score goals. Morgan scores, provides and makes defenses key on her. Id pick Rapinoe’s Olympics above Lloyd’s.

      • Steglitz49

        Welcome to ladies football, old bean! This is what top women soccer players have to put up with in Europe and Japan — except it is usually a third rate never-has been male player who gets the limelight ahead of one of the world’s best ladies.

        This is the big nut that ladies football has to crack — and do not expect any help from the old Europeans and Japanese. Women soccer players have got to fight for space in the media. Their agents and PR-people have to step up and take the hits.

        You should see the quotes and read the comments. Have you forgotten who were flown business class from Japan to the Olympics and who went steerage class? Who stepped in 2011 and paid bonuses to certain ladies?

        Whom do you think earns more? Pia Sundhage or the manager of Sweden’s men’s team? No sweets for guessing right!

        Welcome to the real world, Kernel!

  • Uswntjunkie

    I’d still pick Sinclair top three easily. I think we can all agree she beats outlets any day. Personally I’d take her over Morgan as well. Sinclair and Wambach are very similar in the fact that they lead their country and bring eveyone together. Sinclair nearly single handedly creates chances for her team and some days I would put her above Wambach. I do believe Wambach deserved the award and should be honored.

    • Steglitz49

      I would say that Miyama was grievously passed over and more deserving than Sinclair. The electorate clearly did not agree — specially not the media.

  • Kernel Thai

    The three things that boggled my mind were Sinclair not top three, Herdman not top three (he should have won) and the fact the Red Carpet interviewer obviously not only didnt know who Alex Morgan was, but thought she was someone’s date.

    • Steglitz49

      Herdman won more media votes than Neid or Bini. It was the media votes that gave Pia the slight (<5 %age-points) edge over Sasaki.

      Miyama got 6.30 and Sinclair 6.16 from the captains and coaches but Sinclair got 4.17 media votes (the same as Marta) while Miyama only got 1.20 but only Rapinoe did worse at 0.37.

      Miyama is wonderful. She is Miyama. Her freekick and PK skills are out of this world. Her tactical reading of the game masterful. She took over the captaincy when Sawa was ill and continued to captain the team with Sawa playing. Japan was unfancied but got to the final (defeating Canada btw).

      Many players, including Solo and Wambach, have lauded Miyama's genuine and kind personality. Had the referee not had a bad day at the office in the final Japan would have won. The Nadeshikos wept but took it on the chin for which Miyama deserves credit. This paragon of virtue earned a yellow card in the World cup final (it was Iwashimizu who was sent off).

      Miyama ought to have been second at least but she was not and such is life. Fritz Walter never got the Ballon d'Or and neither did Helmut Rahn nor King Eric and, so far, not Zlatan, so Miyama is in fine company.

      • Weston John

        Miyama is a fantastic player.
        “Had the referee not had a bad day at the office in the final Japan would have won.”
        Please tell me you were kidding or that I misread this…
        So, if the ref calls the Tobin Heath handball, Japan wins?
        This blame-the-ref mentality is tired.

        • Steglitz49

          You miss the point. Both American and German media noted refereeing errors though the Germans were more critical for obvious reasons. The point was that Miyama (and the team) did not complain after the game, while FIFA had to take disciplinary action against another captain who lost her composure after her game. On the other hand, Miyama collected a yellow card in the final that really mattered, that is she strayed while it meant something not after the final whistle.

          Sinclair got considerably less coaches votes than Miyama and only slightly more captains votes, which is what one would have expected.