Matildas Sam Kerr and Hayley Raso have been nominated for the Ballon d’Or – the first time two Australians have made the shortlist for football’s most prestigious individual award.
Kerr – along with France’s Wendy Renard (Lyon) – has been nominated every year since the female Ballon d’Or Féminin was introduced in 2018. The Matildas captain has finished in the top 10 in each vote, placing third in 2021 and 2022.
Raso’s nomination is her first and comes despite struggling to get game time for Manchester City in the Women’s Super League last season. She switched to Real Madrid prior to the World Cup, where she starred for the Matildas with three goals and an assist.
Both face an uphill task winning the top gong, however, with Spain’s Aitana Bonmati (Barcelona) the hot favourite after claiming the UEFA Player of the Year award ahead of Kerr, as well as the Golden Ball award for most valuable player at the World Cup. Bonmati was nominated alongside fellow World Cup winners Olga Carmona (Real Madrid), Salma Paralluelo (Barcelona) and Alba Redondo (Levante). Patricia Guijarro and Mapi Leon (both Barcelona), two of the 15 players who made themselves unavailable for Spain as part of a protest against the federation’s management of the squad, were also named despite missing the World Cup.
Alexia Putellas (Spain, Barcelona), the 2021 and 2022 winner, and 2022 runner-up Beth Mead (England, Arsenal) were both absent from the list after missing most of the season with anterior cruciate ligament injuries.
England stars Georgia Stanway (Bayern Munich), Mary Earps (Manchester United), Millie Bright (Chelsea) and the Women’s Super League golden boot Rachel Daly (Aston Villa) were all nominated, as was World Cup golden boot Hinata Miyazawa of Japan and Manchester United.
Kadidiatou Diani (Lyon) joined Renard as the only other Frenchwoman on the list, while Linca Caicedo (Real Madrid) was nominated after a breakout World Cup for Colombia. Sophia Smith (Portland Thorns) was the only American on the final list of 30.
The Ballon d’Or recognises the best player in world football over the course of a season. It was changed last year from a calendar year format; this year’s awards cover the 2022-2023 playing season.