The first Ballon d’Or was awarded in 1956. For the next 40 years, only European players were eligible, which meant that the likes of Pele, Maradona, Garrincha, Romario, Kempes, etc simply could not win football’s most prestigious prize. The award was finally opened to all (male) players in 1995 (George Weah, future President of Liberia won it, promptly). Now,
13 23(!) years later, we even have a women’s version! Slow progress is still progress, right?
Unlike the men’s version, the women’s version only nominates 15 players. But among the 15 for the inaugural award is Chelsea’s Fran Kirby, who was a key part of the Blues’ unbeaten league campaign, domestic Double, and Champions League semifinal appearance. She scored 25 goals in 30-odd appearances in all competitions last season, winning both the PFA and the FWA Women’s Player of the Year award (but was shockingly overlooked for FIFA’s The Best finalists).
The 25-year-old is off to a similarly strong start this season with 5 goals in 9 appearances as Chelsea look to challenge on three fronts once again.
Here’s the full list of nominees for the inaugural Women’s Ballon d’Or, with no less than half of them playing for Lyon!
- Lucy Bronze (England / Lyon)
- Pernille Harder (Denmark / Wolfsburg)
- Ada Hegerberg (Norway / Lyon)
- Amandine Henry (France / Lyon)
- Lindsay Horan (USA / Portland)
- Sam Kerr (Australia / Perth)
- Fran Kirby (England / Chelsea)
- Saki Kumagai (Japan / Lyon)
- Amel Majri (France / Lyon)
- Dzsenifer Marozsan (Germany / Lyon)
- Marta (Brazil / Orlando)
- Lieke Mertens (Netherlands / Barcelona)
- Megan Rapinoe (USA / Seattle)
- Wendie Renard (France / Lyon)
- Christine Sinclair (Canada / Portland)