Lionel Messi edged out Virgil van Dijk in the most competitive Ballon d’Or award till date to claim a record sixth gong. On the same night, USWNT star Megan Rapinoe claimed the Ballon d’or Feminin, the female version of the award. This was only the second time it was being awarded and just like the first time, it received very little attention.
The Olympic Gold Medalist clinched the honour ahead of England’s Lucy Bronze and national team-mate Alex Morgan, with other nominees including Lioness star Ellen White, Netherlands’ Vivianne Miedema, Australia’s Sam Kerr and USWNT stars Rose Lavelle and Tobin Heath.
Megan Rapinoe was the star of the show as the USWNT romped to consecutive World Cup triumph this summer, earning the Golden Boot and the Golden Ball at the tournament with her six goals, as well as being named the player of the match in the 2-0 victory against the Netherlands in the final.
The gulf between the male and female games is truly wide. Messi’s award was the 64th in the male category with the first Ballon d’Or awarded in 1956. In contrast, the Female version was awarded for the first time in 2018 to Ada Hegerberg who continues to fight for equality in the game.
The women’s game presently lacks the kind of popularity and following the men’s game enjoys but steady improvement in the quality, remuneration and format of the women’s game is helping to close up the gap. There is a proposal to expand the current Women’s world cup to increase the number of participating teams and the prize money; The Australian Football Federation recently made a deal described as “a commitment blind to gender” that ensures male and female players get equal pay and entitlements.
We still have a long way to go but with wonderful people like the 34year old Rapinoe who combine exceptional talent and a desire to fight for the game around, we can definitely achieve the goal. Thank you Meghan and all other nominees for the award and all female footballers indeed; this is for you all.
Photo Credit: https://www.lequipe.fr/Football/Actualites/Ballon-d-or-feminin-france-football-l-americaine-megan-rapinoe-reign-fc-sacree/1085992