Sam Kerr deserved better, much better in the FIFA Best Woman’s Player balloting. (Geoff Auger Photo)
By Michael Lewis
Just how cannot Sam Kerr not be among the three best women’s soccer players on this planet?
That thought is going through the minds of many of her Sky Blue FC and Australian national team teammates, many confounded defenders and goalkeepers in the National Women’s Soccer League and many Matilda soccer fans.
What the heck happened?
Sounds like a popularity contest to me as national coaches and captains, select members of the media and fans voted in four evenly weighted categories.
After all, how does a teenager with no high level international experience get the nod over Kerr? It doesn’t make sense.
Kerr has been nothing but sensational for Sky Blue FC in the National Women’s Soccer League, one of the best women’s leagues in the world. She has been the catalyst for several Sky Blue FC comebacks with some remarkable goals with the match on the line.
She also has done some damage for Australia, one of the best national teams in the world.
So, let’s take a look at the three finalists who were announced Friday by FIFA:
* Deyna Castellanos is an 18-year-old Venezuelan international who was a vital member of the her team at the Under-17 Women’s World Cup, winning the Bronze Ball and Bronze Boot. Castellanos, who hasn’t doesn’t much at the high level, at least not yet. She starred for the Santa Clarita Blue Heart in United Women’s Soccer, earning first-team all-star honors. She currently plays for Florida State. She might have gotten there on potential, but I have never heard of anyone winning an international award on potential.
* Two-time winner Carli Lloyd did not enjoy the dominant year she had in 2015, when she was a one-woman wrecking crew for the Women’s World Cup U.S. championship team. Lloyd helped ManCity to the UEFA Women’s Champions League semifinals and as the team captured the FA Women’s Cup for the first time. Great feats. But, with all due respect to one of the greatest women’s soccer players in the world, the Manchester City standout made the final three on reputation.
* And then there’s Lieke Martens, who has performed for FC Rosengard and FC Barcelona, who earned the Golden Ball while scoring three times for the Netherlands side that captured the 2017 UEFA Women’s Euro crown. She deserves it. Heck she could wind up as the winner.
There has always been discrepancies in the women’s player of the year voting because I have seen this occur many times in the past — players get votes that they don’t necessarily deserve.
At one time, many national team coaches of women’s teams at one time did not know what was happening around the world.
About 15 years ago, I remember looking at the women’s coaches’ ballots. Many votes were right on target for some of the best players on the planet. On others, there were names I was not familiar with. At least ballot had the name Michelle Akers. That might be all fine and dandy, but the U.S. National Hall of Famer had been retired for two years.
I am looking forward to looking at the ballots again on who voted for who when the award is announced Oct. 23.
It should be interesting.
All I know is that FIFA needs a better system. This shouldn’t be happening at the highest level of soccer.
It’s sham and a shame.