The announcement was expected as FIFA would release the three finalists for the Best FIFA Women's Player of the Year award: Deyna Castellanos from Venezuela and Santa Clarita Blue Heat, Lieke Martens from the Netherlands and FC Barcelona, and Carli Lloyd from the United States and Houston Dash/Manchester City. Sam Kerr, the Australian international and Perth Glory/Sky Blue FC forward, did not make the final round, leaving many, including fans, media, players, basically, the entire women's soccer world stunned.
Not to take anything away from those nominated, but for anyone who has followed women's soccer, especially within the past year, Sam Kerr, based on stats and contributions she has made to club and country, should be a finalist. The 23-year-old Australian international has the speed and skills that have helped her teams gain necessary victories all year.
A Look at Kerr's 2017
Starting with her season in the 2016/17 Westfield W-league, Kerr, as captain for the Perth Glory, helped the club finish at the top of the league table at the end of the regular season. Kerr and the Glory advanced to the W-League Final where they fell to Melbourne City FC 2-0. Kerr also led the Glory in goals scored for the season with 10. In May, Kerr received the Julie Dolan Medal as the league's most valuable player.
Kerr's 2017 NWSL season for Sky Blue FC continued much like her W-League season, if not better. Kerr was voted by the NWSL's Media Association as the Player of the Month for May and June along with various Player of the Week and Team of the Month honors this season. Additionally, Kerr's hat-trick and goal-scoring heroics, including setting an NWSL record for most goals scored in a single game, led to major victories and comebacks for the New Jersey-based club. Kerr also became the league's all-time leading goal scorer, and she is one goal away from becoming the leading single-season goal scorer. She currently leads the league with 16 goals.
On the international stage this past summer, Kerr, with five goals, including a hat-trick against Japan, led a young and determined Australian team to win the inaugural Tournament of Nations, earning all nine points possible, including a first-ever victory over the top-ranked United States. It was Australia's first major tournament win in seven years. Kerr has scored seven goals and three assists in nine games for Australia this year.
Why the Snub Then?
That was the question on the minds of many as soon as the announcement was made public. Kerr was in the initial 10-player shortlist selected by a panel of women soccer experts that included former soccer stars from around the globe, including Mia Hamm, Nadine Kessler, Sissi, and Sun Wen, to name a few. Why would someone like Kerr, after the year she is having, not be a finalist?
For that, we would have to look at the voting process. Fans helped select the final three nominees by voting online, which started on Monday, August 21st and ended on Thursday, September 7. National team coaches, national team captains, and media also took part in the voting process. And unless FIFA makes public the results, we may never know why one of the best women soccer players this year was left off as a finalist.
At this point, one can only speculate that this award is solely a popularity contest, not truly based on the on-field performance of a player, which is a shame because Sam Kerr truly is one of the best players of 2017, and I dare say, perhaps the best player in the game today. Sadly, and unfair to Kerr, is how little some of those who "voted" truly know about what is happening in women's soccer.