CHICAGO (March 4, 2004) – United States Women’s National Team legends Mia Hamm and Michelle Akers have been named to "The FIFA 100," a list commemorating the 100 greatest living players chosen by Pelé and approved by FIFA, the world governing body of soccer as part of FIFA’s Centennial celebrations. Hamm and Akers were the only women, and only Americans, on the prestigious list, which included legends such as George Best, Roberto Carlos, Paolo Maldini, Zinedine Zidane, Bobby Charlton and Thierry Henry just to name a few.
To celebrate FIFA’s Centennial, 18 of the world’s leading photographers were commissioned to shoot portraits of the world’s most influential living players and the collection will be shown for the first time at "The FIFA 100" Charity Auction & Tribute Ceremony tonight in London.
"I would have loved to have been there just to experience the history of the game first-hand coming together in one room," said Hamm, who is with the U.S. team at the CONCACAF Final Round Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Costa Rica. "The legacies, the stories, the achievements and the accolades all together in one place would have been amazing to be a part of."
Akers, who retired just before the 2000 Olympics, scored 105 goals for the USA, including both goals in the historic, 2-1, 1991 Women’s World Cup Final victory over Norway that started the legacy of the U.S. women. Among the vast and varied accolades in her career, she was voted FIFA’s Women’s Player of the Century and was a three-time U.S. Soccer Chevrolet Female Athlete of the Year (1990, 91, 99). She is widely regarded as the best female player of her era, and maybe of all time. The 5-foot-10 Akers was a physical presence ahead of her time. No female player had combined the size, speed, strength and skill of Akers before she burst onto the international scene in 1991 (albeit in her seventh year on the national team), by scoring 39 goals, still a U.S. record. She was a member of the USA’s 1996 Olympic champions and 1999 Women’s World Cup champions.
Hamm is the world’s all-time leading scorer with 146 goals and has racked up 125 assists in her brilliant career as well. She is a two-time FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year (2001 and 2002) and with 249 games played, is the second most-capped soccer player in history behind teammate Kristine Lilly. She has been a starter for the USA in every world championship the team has participated. Through her fabulous goal scoring, selfless passing, tremendous respect for her teammates and tireless dedication to her sport, Hamm has become a worldwide icon for women’s soccer and the most recognizable female athlete on the planet.
"It’s very special to be recognized outside the women’s game," said Hamm. "It’s incredibly humbling to be put in a category with so many great players, players that I watched growing up, but some that I’ve only read about and watched on old tapes. It says a lot about the growth of the women’s game that they are including female players on this list. It’s a honor to represent my sport and definitely my team."
"The FIFA 100" will be exhibited around the globe, opening in Paris at Charles de Gaulle Airport in May 2004. The tour will then move to London to mark a "summer of football" from June to August 2004 with two exhibitions, "The FIFA 100" at the Royal Academy of Arts and "Pelé – The Art of a King" at the County Hall Gallery. In October, the exhibition will head to Japan, appearing in Tokyo’s Roppongi Hills. From November 2004 to May 2005, "The FIFA 100" will be part of the Football Exhibition at the International Olympic Committee Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland.
A commemorative "The FIFA 100" photo book has been produced and will be distributed worldwide by Royal Academy Publications. "The FIFA 100" photographs can be seen at www.the-100.com.