CHICAGO (Tuesday, December 17, 2002) – U.S. Women’s National Team and Washington Freedom forward Mia Hamm has been named the 2002 FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year by soccer’s world governing body. Hamm and Brazil World Cup hero Ronaldo were crowned the king and queen of soccer tonight among soccer royalty at the FIFA World Player of the Year 2002 Gala event in Madrid, Spain.
Hamm, who also won the award last year when it was given for the first time, tallied 161 points to take the top annual women’s honor in world soccer. German striker Birgit Prinz (96) of the Carolina Courage was a clear second and China’s Sun Wen (58) of the Atlanta Beat was third. Twenty-five of the 77 national team coaches who voted selected Hamm as their number one, more than double the number of top nominations received by Prinz (11). Sun Wen received three first-place votes. The USA’s Tiffeny Milbrett received seven first-place votes.
Although out for the first half of the year while recovering from knee surgery, Hamm made a dynamic comeback to the national team and posted impressive numbers for her limited time on the field. Despite appearing in just nine matches for the USA spanning less than 500 minutes, she finished fourth on the team in scoring with seven goals and five assists for 19 points, increasing her world-record goal total to 136 scores in 228 matches. Hamm scored the dramatic game-winning "golden goal" in the USA's 2-1 overtime win over Canada at the 2002 CONCACAF Women's Gold Cup, which gave the U.S. women its fifth consecutive regional championship. She was also named the MVP of the 2002 Nike U.S. Women’s Cup after leading her team an eighth consecutive title in that tournament.
Her exploits for the Washington Freedom were equally impressive. She was second in scoring on the team with eight goals and six assists for 22 points while only playing in 11 games as she helped lead the Freedom to the WUSA championship game. Hamm has also been nominated for the U.S. Soccer’s Chevy Female Athlete of the Year Award for 2002.
Ronaldo, who also won the top men’s award in 1996 and 1997, received the trophy from Brazil’s World Cup-winning coach Luiz Felipe Scolari. Ronaldo’s total of 387 points was more than double that of second-place finisher Germany’s Oliver Kahn (171), the first goalkeeper to have been a finalist for the award. France’s Zinedine Zidane finished in third place with 141 points. Ronaldo, who scored eight goals at the 2002 World Cup in Korea/Japan, was the number one choice for 59 of the 148 national team coaches who voted, and received three times the amount of first place nominations of Zidane (18) and Kahn (16).