CHICAGO (Dec. 5, 2011) – U.S. forward Abby Wambach and U.S. Women’s National Team head coach Pia Sundhage have been named finalists for the year-end awards given out by FIFA, the world governing body of soccer. The announcement was made today at a press conference in Paris, France.
Wambach was chosen as one of three finalists for the Women’s World Player of the Year along with Marta of Brazil and Homare Sawa of Japan, while Sundhage was one of three finalists for the World Coach of the Year for Women’s Soccer along with Bruno Bini of France and Norio Sasaki of Japan.
Wambach and Sundhage made the final three in the respective categories through voting by the captains and head coaches of almost all the women’s national teams throughout the world as well as by international media representatives.
The finalists for the Men’s World Player of the Year are Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid and Portugal, Lionel Messi of Barcelona and Argentina and Xavi of Barcelona and Spain.
The winners of all of FIFA’s year-end awards will be revealed at the FIFA Ballon d’Or gala at the Zurich Kongresshaus on January 9, 2012, during which the Men’s World Player of the Year, the FIFA World XI and the FIFA Puskás Award for the most beautiful goal of the year will also be announced. The FIFA Presidential Award and the FIFA Fair Play Award will also be presented during the gala.
The finalists for the World Coach of the Year for Men’s Soccer are Alex Ferguson of Manchester United, Josep Guardiola of Barcelona and José Mourinho of Real Madrid.
The three nominees for the FIFA Puskás award for the “most beautiful goal of the year” Lionel Messi, Neymar of Santos and Brazil and Wayne Rooney of Manchester United and England.
Sundhage finished third in the voting for the World Coach of the Year in 2008, the first year the award was given out.
This is the first time Wambach has been in the final three for the award, although she finished fourth in the voting in 2004 and 2006, fifth in 2007, was one of the final 10 in 2009 and was fifth again in 2010. Wambach won the Silver Ball as the second best player at the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Germany and the Bronze Ball as the tournament’s third leading scorer.
Wambach led the USA in scoring in 2011 with eight goals and four assists and currently has 125 career goals for the USA. She was also the top American scorer in Women’s Professional Soccer this past season, scoring 11 goals despite playing just 11 regular season games and two playoff games due to national team commitments.