As a Brit who follows various leagues across the globe, I am once again left scratching my head over USA defender Becky Sauerbrunn’s omission from the very first FIFPro Women’s World XI.
The FC Kansas City defender had an almost flawless 2015, winning the NWSL title for a second season in a row, the league honor for Best Defender, and of course the small matter of a World Cup winners medal.
But for Sauerbrunn, recognition for her efforts seems to be in short supply when it comes to the world stage.
She was omitted from the team of the tournament at the World Cup, despite being arguably the best defender from start to finish, while missing out on the FIFA World Player of the Year list of ten before it was cut to a final three.
This latest exclusion has left media and supporters in the US questioning why a player who backs up winning medals with impeccable professionalism, has been overlooked once again.
Well, I can assure you that it is not just in the US that people have been left slightly taken aback, and it’s not just over Sauerbrunn either.
Seattle Reign and Scotland midfielder Kim Little is another notable absentee after yet another inspiring season for her club, while many over here in England believe Lucy Bronze should have been recognized for her remarkable 2015.
For the record, Bronze finished eighth in the voting in for defenders, and as for Little, when I posed the question to FIFPro as to whether she was close in the voting, their response was: “No, she was not close to selection.”
That is staggering when you think about her performances for her club and continuing influence for her country, but here in lies one of the problems – how difficult is it for players not involved in a World Cup to receive the recognition their performances at domestic level deserve?
The answer is very difficult, which is why we cannot be overly surprised by the way voting has weighed heavily towards those who performed at the World Cup.
How many people saw Little week in week out perform for Seattle? How many saw Lucy Bronze put in polished performances for Manchester City Women in the FAWSL? And how many saw Marta working her magic in Sweden’s Damallsvenskan?
But it does work both ways.
How many people saw Aya Miyama gracefully gliding across the field in the Japanese Nadeshiko League? Probably not many outside of Japan, yet, she made the FIFPro XI team.
How much time, realistically, do players have to watch the games that are available to them, of which this number is probably quite small, to make a confident selection?
All of these factors must be taken into consideration, as well as the fact that this is the first FIFPro World XI, who have admitted publicly that this is something in development, with the first being a ‘pilot’.
The number of players surveyed was less than 400 from the Americas, Europe, Asia/Oceania and Africa, which when you consider the number of players playing in those regions, is a very, very small percentage. Less than 400 votes should not be seen as representation of the views of players from across the globe. As this team of the year becomes more recognized, there are sure to be more individuals throwing their votes into the ring.
[KASSOUF: How does Sauerbrunn keep getting snubbed?]
As for Sauerbrunn, we know how good she is, her teammates and coaching staff know how good she is, but most importantly, she knows how good she is, and no omission from a team like this is going to define her year or her importance to club and country.
It would be hypocritical of me to question the omission of certain individuals from the World XI, if I were not to pick my own. Feel free to scrutinize in the comments below.
Kieran’s World XI:
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