CHICAGO (Thursday, November 15, 2001) - Two of the brightest and most decorated stars in the U.S. Women's National Team program have received an historic honor as Tiffeny Milbrett and Mia Hamm were named by FIFA, the world governing body of soccer, as finalists for the first-ever "World Female Player of the Year." The winner will be announced on Monday, December 17 at the FIFA World Player Gala 2001 in Zurich, Switzerland.
FIFA has named a men's "World Player of the Year" since 1991, but this will be the first year that a woman will be so honored. Chinese superstar Sun Wen joins Hamm and Milbrett as the three finalists who were nominated in voting by 72 women's national team coaches from around the world. Five points were awarded for a first place nomination, three points for a second place, and one point for a third. Coaches were not permitted to vote for players from their own national team. The voting closed on October 31, 2001.
"First and foremost, it's tremendous that FIFA is recognizing a female player of the year for the first time," said Milbrett. "It gives women's soccer a new importance and respect worldwide. Some truly amazing things have happened in our sport over the past decade and this a great sign of the steps FIFA is taking to raise the stature of the women's game."
Hamm is the world's all-time leading scorer in international competition with 129 career goals and has played an amazing 219 matches for the United States. She was U.S. Soccer's Chevrolet Female Athlete of the Year for an unprecedented five consecutive years from 1994-98 and is one of the most recognizable female athletes in the United States. During the inaugural season of the Women's United Soccer Association (WUSA), she led the Washington Freedom in scoring with six goals and four assists. In her most recent match for the U.S., Hamm scored twice to lead the U.S. to a 4-1 victory over Germany at the 2001 Nike U.S. Women's Cup.
Milbrett, with 86 career goals, ranks sixth all-time in international scoring behind Hamm, Elisabetta Vignotto of Italy (107), Carolina Morace of Italy (105), Michelle Akers (105) and Kristine Lilly (87). With 186 caps, Milbrett ranks fifth on the USA's all-time list. Milbrett has had a spectacular two years, scoring 15 goals and nine assists in 2000, including both of the USA's goals in the Olympic gold medal match. She was named U.S. Soccer's Chevrolet Female Athlete of the Year for 2000. She was among the brightest stars in the WUSA during its inaugural season in 2001, scoring 16 goals with three assists and was named the league's Most Valuable Player and Offensive Player of the Year. Milbrett has played in just five matches for the U.S. Women's National Team in 2001, but scored in three of them.
Sun was hampered by injuries during the first season of the WUSA, playing in just 13 games while starting five. She scored just one goal and had two assists, but her play off the bench was instrumental in helping the Atlanta Beat to the championship game.
England's David Beckham, Portugal's Luis Figo and Raúl of Spain lead the way among the players nominated for the title of "FIFA World Player of the Year 2001." Other awards to be given out include the "Team of the Year," the "Best Mover of the Year" according to the FIFA World Ranking, the "Fair Play Award 2001" the "Fair Play Diploma 2001" and the "FIFA Presidential Award," a new decoration for a member of the worldwide football family personally chosen by the FIFA President.