For the second time in a row, Carli Lloyd has been named the top player in women’s soccer, earning The Best FIFA Women’s Player award on Monday. She beat out finalists Melanie Behringer of Germany and Marta of Brazil to win the award.
Lloyd scored 15 goals for the USWNT in 2016, with four of those goals coming in Olympic qualifying and two at Rio 2016. Lloyd also scored five goals for her club team, the Houston Dash.
While Lloyd is unquestionably one of the top players in the world, there should be a lot of questions about her winning this year. Unlike 2015, when she scored in three straight World Cup games culminating in a hat trick in the final, it was a bit of a down year for Lloyd. She didn’t make the semifinals in either the Olympics or National Women’s Soccer League, nor did she finish top five in goals or assists in either competition.
Given the bizarre omissions from the list of finalists, it’s fair to wonder whether the people who vote on the award even follow women’s soccer at all. NWSL and USWNT assist leader Tobin Heath did not make the list of 10 nominees, nor did — even more inexplicably — Ada Hegerberg. The Norwegian striker led both France’s Division 1 Feminine and the UEFA Champions League in scoring while her team won both titles in 2016. French midfielder Camille Abily, who was also dominant in both competitions with 17 combined assists between them was among the 10 nominees but not the three finalists.
The Best FIFA Men’s Player award and its previous incarnations never have the same type of obvious omissions among its list of nominees that the women’s award does. It implies that FIFA does not take the award seriously, nor do the people who vote on it.
We don’t want to discredit Lloyd. Once again, she is one of the world’s top players and will likely contend for this award a few more times before her career is over. But it’s about time this award becomes more about on-field accomplishments than popularity, like the men’s award is.