Coach: Sinclair's snub for player of year a 'travesty'
Canada's Christine Sinclair celebrates her penalty kick goal against Cuba during a CONCACAF women's Olympic qualifying soccer game in Vancouver, B.C., on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2012. (The Canadian Press/Darryl Dyck)
The Canadian Press
Published Thursday, November 29, 2012 6:43PM EST
John Herdman says it's a "travesty" that Canada's soccer captain Christine Sinclair has been snubbed for FIFA's women's player of the year award.
But the coach of the Canadian team that captured bronze at the London Olympics said a lack of knowledge about the women's game is more to blame than any malicious intent.
And besides, the coach added, international recognition isn't what his star striker plays for.
"It's a travesty," Herdman said in from Vancouver. "A player who can score a hat trick in a semifinal and lead her country to the first (Olympic team) medal since 1936, the first time Canada's ever been on a (soccer) podium at one of these events, and still be one of the leading scorers in the world. . . and she can't get in the top three.
"There's something wrong somewhere. But at the end of the day, you don't want to be pointing fingers at people. It is what it is."
The 29-year-old from Burnaby, B.C., led Canada to bronze in London in spectacular fashion, scoring an Olympic-record six goals to win the Golden Boot. She recorded a hat trick in a 4-3 extra-time semifinal loss to the U.S.
Americans Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan and Brazil's Marta make up the final three, after a vote by national team coaches, captains and reporters. The winner will be announced in Switzerland on Jan. 7.
As part of its partnership with the world governing body of soccer, France Football organizes the FIFA Ballon D'Or vote. The finalists were picked from a list of 10 candidates, compiled by the editors of France Football and the Committee for Women's Football and the FIFA Women's World Cup.
Herdman voted for Sinclair, Wambach and Camille Abily of France.
Just one journalist votes per FIFA country. Neil Davidson of The Canadian Press cast the lone Canadian vote, listing Sinclair first, Wambach second, and American Carli Lloyd third.
Herdman was on the shortlist for coach of the year, but wasn't among the final three announced Thursday. France's Bruno Bini, Japan's Norio Sasaki and the United States' Pia Sundhage made the final ballot.
Davidson voted for 1. Sundhage, 2. Herdman and 3. Sasaki.
FIFA's criteria for the award was "sporting performance and general conduct both on and off the pitch."
Sinclair, Canada's flag-bearer at the closing ceremonies in London, was suspended four matches by the sport's governing body for comments she made after Canada's semifinal loss to the U.S.
Sinclair has been on the shortlist six times in her career, but she has had an outstanding 2012 making this year her best shot at the Ballon d'Or.
But it wasn't to be, and her supporters quickly took to Twitter to voice their outrage, some accusing FIFA of blackballing the Canadian.
Canadian forward Melissa Tancredi posted: "(at)sincy12 we'll work on gettin u a hat trick against evry top 5 team 4 the nxt yr. Oh & aim 4 50 cuz 23 goals ain't cuttin it! .OpenUrEyes"
Midfielder Rhian Wilkinson wrote "I am shocked by Sincy not making the final three, crazy."
Herdman said what she's done for the women's game in Canada far outweighs any international recognition.
"She's recognized in Canada, she's inspired a nation of young players to come through," he said.
"And I think for Christine, to be honest, the type of person she is, this sort of recognition would just be water off a duck's back. She's more focused on just letting her football do the talking and I guess her recognition is being in what she's achieved her in Canada, and I think that's pretty much what she cares about.
"I'm not sure whether this would be a big deal to her, I think she's a type of player that will probably just shrug her shoulders and say, 'Oh well, when's my next game?"'
Her 143 career international goals rank third all-time, second among active players behind Wambach (148).
According to the Canadian Soccer Association, Sinclair -- with 23 goals and six assists -- contributed to 65.9 per cent of her team's scoring in 2012.
Morgan was involved in 41.7 per cent of the U.S. team's goals, with 27 goals and 18 assists in 27 games. Wambach was involved in 28.7 of the Americans' goals, while Marta scored just two international goals in seven games for Brazil, but had a strong pro season in Sweden.
"For any voters, it's always going to be difficult to decide who you want on that list," Herdman said. "But the bottom line is Christine's just had one of those years, its just been an unbelievable year and when players have years like that, you would expect them to be recognized in some way and if they're not, they're not.
"That might tell you a little bit about the global awareness of women's football."
Morgan and Wambach are looking to win the women's award for the first time after leading the United States to its third straight Olympic gold medal. Marta is looking for an unprecedented sixth award.
Herdman shrugged off not being among the coaches' final three.
"The three people who were in the top three, they were my votes, and I think all three of them are world-class coaches," Herdman said.
"We had a great year with the team, and I think our story was very different to those country's stories. We were able to take a team from last in the World Cup to Canada's first-ever medal (in a team sport) since 1936."
"Bottom line is there are three great coaches who've been nominated, and you've just got to respect that."