While competing on teams to win the World Cup, players also compete for individual awards, like to coveted Golden Ball. Here’s everything you need to know about the tournament’s highest honor.
The biggest stage in women’s soccer is upon us as players get ready to compete for the trophy at the 2023 Women’s World Cup. While they’re competing as teams, there are also individual awards up for grabs in the tournament. There are the usuals such as the golden boot that goes to the most goals scored, and the golden glove to the best keeper. The golden ball is one of the most coveted awards at the tournament, but what exactly is it?
What is the Women’s World Cup Golden Ball?
The Golden Ball is awarded to the best player of the tournament. The shortlist is created by the FIFA technical committee and the winner is voted for by representatives of the media. Also known as the Adidas Golden Ball, the award is given out after the final match along with the trophy. The runner-ups are given the Silver Ball and the Bronze Ball respectively as the second and third best players of the tournament.
Golden Ball winners in Women’s World Cup history
During the nine iterations of the FIFA Women’s World Cup, there have been three Americans given the award, while the other six years have been different countries. The most recent winner of the Golden Ball was Megan Rapinoe in 2019, who received it for her stellar performance with the US Women’s National Team. Carin Jennings received the very first Golden Ball in the 1991 World Cup for the United States. The third American to win was Carli Lloyd in 2015.
The other winners are as follows: Hege Riise (1995, Norway), Sun Wen (1999, China), Birgit Prinz (2003, Germany), Marta (2007, Brazil), and Homare Sawa (2011, Japan).
All of these players are incredible athletes and went above and beyond for their teams to earn the Golden Ball. With so many teams competing this year, the competition for the Golden Ball is going to be tighter than ever. Not to mention all the new young talent entering the global game, with the average age of rosters going down every World Cup cycle. Fans should keep an eye on Sam Kerr, Sophia Smith, Lauren James, and Alexandra Popp as they go head-to-head to try and win the trophy.
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