Heather O'Reilly Accepts FIFA Presidential Award on Behalf of Women's Soccer
CHICAGO (Jan. 13, 2009) – U.S. Women’s National Team midfielder Heather O’Reilly was bestowed a special honor today in Zurich, Switzerland as she accepted the Presidential Award on behalf of the women's game at the FIFA World Player Gala 2008.
This year was a banner one for women’ soccer as FIFA held three world championships, including two highly successful youth tournaments, one of which was the debut of the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup. The USA won the 2008 Olympics and the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup while finishing second at the U-17 tournament.
FIFA president Joseph S. Blatter, speaking during the Gala, paid tribute to the strides that have been made in women’s soccer.
"We are delighted with the progress which has been made so far in the women's game," he said. "Whether in terms of technique, physical fitness or tactics, women's football is experiencing continuous development around the world. We are also thrilled by the growing popularity of the sport. Today, some 26 million girls and women play the beautiful game in all of FIFA's 208 member associations and the sport is continuously attracting more and more young female athletes."
The 24-year-old O’Reilly helped the USA to third place at the 2007 FIFA Women's World Cup in China, won gold medals at the Athens and Beijing Olympic Games, and a winners' medal at the 2002 FIFA U-19 Women's World Cup in Canada.
Since the first-ever FIFA Women’s World Cup in 1991, won by the USA, the United States and the U.S. Soccer Federation have been a world-wide leader in the support and development of women’s soccer, making O’Reilly’s role in accepting the award more than appropriate.
Brazilian dribbling genius Marta won the 2008 FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year, the third year in a row she has taken the prestigious honor.