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Matildas captain Sam Kerr finishes second in Ballon d’Or vote

Matildas captain Sam Kerr has been named the second best women’s footballer on the planet after coming runner-up in the prestigious Ballon d’Or Feminin at a star-studded ceremony in Paris.

The Chelsea striker is the only player to have been nominated in all five of the women’s Ballon d’Or awards since its inception in 2018. She has finished third in the previous two editions of the award presented by France Football magazine.

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Matildas teammate Hayley Raso was also among 30 players nominated for this year’s award – the first time two Australians have made the list. The winger finished 17th in final voting.

Kerr led Chelsea to a third straight Women’s Super League title this year, scoring 12 goals in 21 games. Although she missed much of her home Women’s World Cup with a calf injury, she scored a memorable goal in the semi-final defeat against England.

The 30-year-old is currently in Perth on international duty and scored a hat-trick in the Olympic qualifier against the Philippines on Sunday, taking her international tally to 68 goals – more than any other Australian.

Football Australia board member and former Matilda Heather Garriock paid tribute to the No 20. “Sam coming second is an incredible achievement,” she said. “Yet I know Sam and she would be wanting to win it one day, and it’s only a matter of time. She is a superstar in our eyes regardless.”

The head of women’s football and inclusion at Football Australia, Sarah Walsh, said the recognition for Kerr was further proof of her standing within global football. “Sam continues to create history on and off the field for Australian football,” she said. “Sam deserves every accolade that comes her way. She is an exceptional talent and a role model that transcends football, and we couldn’t be prouder of her.”

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Spain’s Aitana Bonmatí took out the 2023 award after her side won the Women’s World Cup, where she was awarded the Golden Ball for player of the tournament. She was also named Uefa’s Women’s Player of the Year after helping her club side Barcelona win the Champions League.

Bonmatí becomes the first player to win the World Cup Golden Ball, the Uefa Women’s Player of the Year, and the Women’s Ballon d’Or in the same season.

Her victory means a third straight Ballon d’Or trophy for Spain’s women, after Alexia Putellas won in 2021 and 2022.

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Bonmatí’s victory comes on the same day Fifa banned former Spanish football federation president Luis Rubiales for kissing forward Jenni Hermoso without consent following the side’s victory in the World Cup in Sydney.

19-year-old Spanish forward Salma Paralluelo, Sweden’s Fridolina Rolfo and English goalkeeper Mary Earps rounded out the top five.

Argentina forward Lionel Messi was picked up the men’s award after guiding his nation to the World Cup title in Qatar late last year. He beat Norwegian spearhead Erling Haaland and French striker Kylian Mbappé to the award.

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Messi was presented the award by one of the owners of his club Inter Miami, former English international David Beckham. It was Messi’s eighth Ballon d’Or, three more than his long-time rival, Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo.