CHICAGO (Tuesday, November 19, 2002) - U.S. Women's National Team forward Mia Hamm has been named a finalist for the 2002 FIFA Women's World Player of the Year award. Hamm won the award in 2001, the first year that the honor was bestowed on a female player.
Hamm is joined as one of three finalists this year by German Birgit Prinz, who led the Carolina Courage to the WUSA title, and Chinese international Sun Wen. The finalists for the FIFA Men’s World Player of the Year award are Brazilian World Cup hero Ronaldo, German goalkeeper Oliver Kahn and French midfielder Zinedine Zidane. The winners will be announced on December 17.
Hamm came back from knee surgery early in the year to lead the Washington Freedom to the WUSA championship game, scoring eight goals with six assists in just 11 matches, only one of which she started. Hamm's return to the national team was similarly striking as she scored against Norway in a 4-0 victory on July 21. Hamm had seven goals and five assists in nine matches for the USA this year and upped her world record international goal total to 136.
The winners of the FIFA awards will be announced in Madrid, Spain on December 17 during a 90-minute ceremony that will be broadcast around the world. More than 70 national team coaches cast their vote for the women’s award, and more 140 coaches voted for the Men’s World Player of the Year. The coaches were asked to name the top three players in their respective game over the course of 2002. Players received five points for a first-place vote, three points for a second place and one point for a third.
A total of 20 trophies and awards will be presented at the FIFA World Player Gala 2002, with the best players from the 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan also being honored. Kahn will receive the Golden Ball for the best player at the event, while Ronaldo will receive the Silver Ball and Hong Myung-Bo of the Korea Republic will receive the Bronze Ball. Ronaldo will also be presented with the Golden Shoe as the top goalscorer, with the Silver Shoe and Bronze Shoe awarded to Rivaldo (Brazil) and Miroslav Klose (Germany) respectively. Kahn will also receive the Lev Yashin Award for best goalkeeper. Korea Republic will receive the accolade for the Most Attractive Team at the 2002 World Cup, while Belgium will be awarded the FIFA Fair Play Award.