Megan Rapinoe struck her popular celebratory pose upon receiving the Golden Boot at the Women’s World Cup.
Rapinoe scored on a penalty in the 61st minute of the U.S.’ 2-0 win over the Netherlands in the final of the FIFA Women’s World Cup on Sunday in France. The goal put the U.S. up 1-0 and gave Rapinoe six goals on the tournament.
Rapinoe finished tied with teammate Alex Morgan and England’s Ellen White for the tournament lead in goals scored. She and Morgan tied on the next tiebreaker since each had three assists. Rapinoe received the Golden Boot based on scoring her six goals in fewer minutes played than Morgan.
When she was called up to get her trophy, she did the same pose she struck after a goal against France earlier in the tournament.
There’s no question the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup will bring a talented field as 24 nations are set to compete for one title.
But with 552 players making the trip to France, it begs the question – who are the players to watch when the tournament gets underway Friday?
Let’s take a look at 10 players who are sure to make an impact:
Christine Sinclair – Canada, forward
After spending more than 19 years on Canada’s national team, Sinclair brings an enormous amount of experience to this year’s World Cup. She’s Canada’s all-time leading scorer and she sits second on the women’s all-time scoring list with 181. She trails only American Abby Wambach (184), but that could change after France. Her impressive resume doesn’t stop there, though, as she is third all-time with 281 caps and she’s the only non-U.S. player with more than 225, according to Opta.
The forward has helped Canada fight for a spot on the world stage in each of the last four World Cups. This year’s tournament may be the 35-year-old Sinclair’s last chance to win the most coveted trophy in the sport.
14-time Canadian Female Player of the Year (2000, 2004-14, 2016, 2018)
Two-time Olympic bronze medalist (London 2012, Rio 2016)
Golden Boot FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup (2004)
Golden Ball FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup (2002)
FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup All-Star Team (2002)
Alex Morgan – United States, forward
Morgan’s unique combination of athleticism, anticipation and technical ability has elevated her to the top of the game. Since joining the USWNT in 2010, she has scored 101 international goals (the sixth-most in U.S. history) in 163 caps. When she scored her 100th career USWNT goal earlier this year, she became the third-youngest player and fourth-fastest player to reach that feat.
Morgan played a major role in helping the U.S. make it to the World Cup in 2011 – where she was the youngest player on the national team – and then she led her nation to a championship in 2015. It’s hard to believe Morgan’s just 29 years old with all that she’s already accomplished. She’ll certainly be one to keep a close eye on in France as she continues to build her international resume.
FIFA Women’s World Cup Champion (2015), Runner-up (2011)
FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Champion (2008)
Four Nations Tournament Champion (2011)
SheBelieves Cup (2016, 2018)
CONCACAF Women’s Champion (2014, 2018)
Marta – Brazil, forward
Marta Vieira da Silva has established herself as one of the greatest players the tournament has ever seen. She holds the record for most goals scored at Women’s World Cup tournaments with 15, sitting just ahead of Germany’s Birgit Prinz and the USA’s Abby Wambach, who both have 14. Marta has earned 110 international goals to make her Brazil’s leading scorer and she’s tied for seventh on the all-time scoring list. With high soccer intelligence, strength and speed, Marta is expected to carry Brazil through the 2019 tournament.
Five-time winner of FIFA World Player of the Year (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010)
Four-time Runner-up of FIFA World Player of the Year (2005, 2011, 2012, 2014)
Copa Libertadores de Futbol Femenino Golden Ball (2009)
U-20 World Cup Golden Ball (2004)
Megan Rapinoe – United States, forward
Veteran Rapinoe is another key player the Americans will rely on to be a strong playmaker. After joining the U.S. national team in 2006, she quickly became known for her crafty style of play on the international level. She has been a consistent scorer with 44 goals in 153 caps, and she’s known for coming up with big assists as she ranks fifth in USWNT history with 57.
One of her most memorable plays came when she delivered a 45-yard cross to Abby Wambach in the 122nd minute of the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup quarterfinals in Brazil. Wambach then scored off a header, which eventually led to a win for the Americans.
Other notable accomplishments:
FIFA Women’s World Cup Champion (2015), Runner-up (2011)
Olympic gold medalist (London 2012)
Four Nations Tournament Champion (2011)
SheBelieves Cup Champion (2018)
CONCACAF Women’s Champion (2014, 2018)
Sam Kerr – Australia, forward
Kerr has emerged as Australia’s first marquee player and she’s only going to bring more attention to the sport in her nation. She was only 15 years old when she made her international debut in a match against Italy in February 2009. From there, she continued to flourish, scoring 31 goals in 77 appearances. While playing in the National Women’s Soccer League – where she currently represents the Chicago Red Stars – Kerr has been the league’s leading scorer in each of the last two seasons.
Kerr, 25, may be young, but she will be powerful in France.
One of the best World Cups in history comes to an end Sunday in Moscow, as France and Croatia face off at the Luzhniki Stadium with the world championship on the line.
This is the third time France has reached the World Cup final, winning it all in 1998 and losing to Italy in the 2006 championship game. Croatia’s national team didn’t officially join FIFA until 1992 – with players previously competing for Yugoslavia – and is here in the final for the first time.
USA TODAY Sports’ soccer staff gives their picks for the World Cup final and who will win the Golden Ball – awarded to the tournament’s best player:
Prediction: France 3, Croatia 0
There isn’t much to choose between these teams except for the fact they are at the polar opposite ends of the “effort expended” spectrum. Croatia has played what amounts to an entire additional game thanks to three bouts of extra time. France has the movement to exploit those tired legs.
Golden Ball winner: Luka Modric, Croatia
Prediction: France 2, Croatia 1 (after extra time)
Croatia once again pushes an opponent into extra time, but this time succumbs to the uber-talented French, who crush the dreams of another “golden generation.”
Group norms involve yelling and cheering. Note that this doesn’t always lead to bad behavior – witness the Japan and Senegal fans clearing up their litter after their recent match.
Football fever is once again sweeping the globe. People’s behavior during the World Cup is very interesting for us psychologists, as we can see many examples of the theories we use in action. Here are five questions you might ask during the tournament – and how psychology would answer them:
1. Why do people suddenly “get into” football during the World Cup, when usually they’re not interested?
This change in attitudes has to do with a change in our social identity. Social identities are aspects of our personality that relate in some way to our social surroundings, for example, our nationality, the organization we work for, or a club we are members of. People are usually nicer towards people that share their social identity (the “ingroup”), and tend to be meaner to those that don’t (the “outgroup”) even if they know nothing else about those people. This happens even if you split people up based on really trivial things such as which artist they prefer.
2. Why do people cheer and yell during a match in a way they never normally would?
The presence of others around you can lead to “deindividuation”. This is where you blend into a crowd and become anonymous, something particularly likely to happen if everyone is wearing the same football strip.
Deindividuation means you are more likely to act in a way appropriate to the norms of the group rather than your own norms. In a football crowd, those norms involve yelling and cheering. Note that this doesn’t always lead to bad behavior – witness the Japan and Senegal fans clearing up their litter after their recent match.
A 2026 World Cup of 48 teams offers a vision of football flying back and forth across Donald Trump’s border wall for a tournament jointly hosted by America, Mexico and Canada: a sprawling bonanza of 16 groups and 80 matches after the 2022 version in Qatar, a kind of Rutland with oil.
Let’s try not to bury this in negatives right away. A World Cup of almost 25% of Fifa nations extends participation beyond Europe’s superpowers to ‘developing’ countries in Africa, Asia and South America.
It will generate up to a billion dollars more in revenue. Objectivity requires me to type those words. The great players Fifa brought to Zurich for their annual Oscars-inspired awards junket were noticeably on-message about geo-political shifts and football’s need to move with them.
But then the mind admits a sharper reality. Even if Fifa think they are trying to reenergise the World Cup, they are steadily killing it, with Russia, Qatar and now pell-mell expansion likely to wipe out public faith over an eight-year stretch.
Trump’s wall, if it ever materialises, will not need a special football door if the USA alone stage 2026. But a three-nation bid remains a strong possibility, with China also in the reckoning for 2026 and subsequent renewals. So while the smaller nations vote enthusiastically for growth, they also kiss goodbye to the possibility of ever hosting the extravaganza. The infrastructure required for staging a 48-team tournament is way beyond most countries. South Africa (2010) and Brazil (2014) are likely to be remembered as the World Cup’s last forays beyond the superpower nations, with white elephantism the only ‘legacy.’
A political reading of the unanimous vote here in Zurich in favour of 16 extra teams and a total of 80 fixtures by Fifa’s council is that football’s overlords have found a new, less grubby way to extract more money from television companies and fans and spread it around the six confederations. Previously, under Sepp Blatter, this was achieved by a Byzantine culture of backhanders and bungs, all of which kept Blatter in power through a mafia-like system of patronage.
November 26th, FIFA announced their shortlist for World XI and Ballon D’Or. The list includes 55 players that were voted on by almost 25,000 professional players worldwide. Here are the respective shortlists:
Here are my predictions using a 4-3-3 formation:
Goalkeeper- Manuel Neuer; Honorable Mention- David De Gea
Manuel Neuer is still the clear-cut best goalkeeper in the world. He has 12 clean sheets compared to De Gea’s 7 in UCL and Domestic league competitions this year. Last season in UCL and Domestic league, Neuer had 26 clean sheets while De Gea had 11. De Gea faces more shots per game than Neuer and as such makes more saves, but Neuer has allowed less goals as well. This is partially due to the fact that Neuer plays for a better team than De Gea, but it is still clear that Neuer is the better keeper. He also passes the eye test unlike any other keeper. Here is one of his most tremendous saves of the season coming at an important moment in a Champions League match versus Arsenal.
Attorney General Loretta Lynch held a press conference on the FIFA member arrests taking place in Zurich. In total, 16 people have been charged with various crimes including racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering among other crimes and charges. Like the arrests in May, these arrests and charges are primarily focused on those in charge of CONCACAF and CONMEBOL and national confederations within Central and South America.
In addition, eight defendants from those arrested in May including former CONCACAF President Jeffrey Webb, entered guilty pleas and agreed to forefeit a total of $190 million.
The Department of Justice unsealed the new 236 page indictment on their new defendants as well as those who have been and not plead guilty. In total, 27 people remain listed as defendants, either from today or the arrests in May, not counting the eight who already plead guilty.
The Department of Justice provided some basic information on each of the 16 new defendants. These defendants include:
Since the FIFA corruption scandal began earlier this year, many of FIFA’s sponsors have expressed concern and even went so far as demanding the removal of Sepp Blatter as FIFA President. Now, these same sponsors are going to FIFA’s executive committee to demand “independent oversight” within the FIFA reform committee.
In a letter sent to the executive committee, Adidas, Coca-Cola, McDonalds, Visa and Budweiser (Anheuser-Busch InBev is the parent company), stressed that not only does FIFA implement such reforms as “transparency, accountability, respect for human rights, integrity, leadership and gender equality,” the sponsors also demand that there be a “culture change” throughout FIFA as well as having long term independent oversight throughout the reform process.
Coca-Cola published the letter to the FIFA executive committee in full. It should be noted that FIFA sponsors Hyundai and Gazprom are not included in this open letter.
Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Neymar are the three finalists for the Ballon d’Or trophy, FIFA announced today.
Ronaldo has won the award, given each year to the world’s best player, for the past two seasons. Messi won it for four straight years before that.
Those awards, and a few others, will be given out at FIFA’s Ballon d’Or Gala in Zurich on Jan. 11. So, let’s go through the nominees and make a few predictions on who will win:
Men’s Ballon d’Or
Nominees: Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Neymar
Sorting out the field: Ronaldo (45), Lionel Messi (44) and Neymar (41) are the top three scorers in 2015 in Europe’s top leagues. Silverware is always a factor in winning this award, and with only a Spanish Super Cup on his resume, that hurts Ronaldo a bit.
Prediction: Messi will reclaim the trophy, edging out Ronaldo. That would mark the eighth straight year that either Ronaldo or Messi has won this award.
Michel Platini’s lawyer, Thibaut d’Ales, has stunningly claimed that the FIFA Ethics Committee is seeking to ban the UEFA President for life. There is no word on whether or not this ban would extend to FIFA President Sepp Blatter.
Formal corruption proceedings have been opened against Platini and Blatter by Hans-Joachim Eckert and the FIFA Ethics Committee after the final report of an investigation on the duo. The investigation in question was into an alleged breach of ethical code in regards to a £1.3m payment made to Platini from Blatter in 2011.
D’Ales reported to the Associated Press that the maximum sanction was the recommended punishment for the former French player.