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CANADA: Jessie Fleming, Bev Priestman shortlisted for FIFA Best Football Awards

Fleming, who has won the Canada Soccer Player of the Year Award the last two years, has won 111 caps for Canada and led the national team in minutes played in each of the last two seasons
Australia's Katrina Gorry, right, and Canada's Jessie Fleming battle for the ball during a friendly soccer international between Canada and Australia in Sydney, Australia, Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2022. Canada midfielder Fleming and coach Bev Priestman have been shortlisted for the Best FIFA Football Awards. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Rick Rycroft

Midfielder Jessie Fleming, named Canada's player of the year in December, is now in contention for the Best FIFA Women’s Player.

Canada coach Bev Priestman has also been shortlisted for the Best FIFA Women's Coach.

FIFA announced its shortlist for its Best Football Awards on Thursday. Nominees for the men's award include France's Kylian Mbappé, Argentina's Lionel Messi and Brazil's Neymar.

Fleming is one of 14 nominees for the Best FIFA Women’s Player. Her opposition includes Chelsea teammate Sam Kerr of Australia.

Fleming, who has won the Canada Soccer Player of the Year Award the last two years, has won 111 caps for Canada and led the national team in minutes played in each of the last two seasons. The 24-year-old from London, Ont., and American Alex Morgan are the only North American players on the FIFA women's shortlist.

Other nominees are Aitana Bonmatí (Spain/FC Barcelona), Debinha (Brazil/North Carolina Courage), Ada Hegerberg (Norway/Olympique Lyonnais), Beth Mead (England/Arsenal); Vivianne Miedema (Netherlands/Arsenal), Lena Oberdorf (Germany/VfL Wolfsburg), Alexandra Popp (Germany/VfL Wolfsburg), Alexia Putellas (Spain/FC Barcelona), Wendie  Renard (France/Olympique Lyonnais), Keira Walsh (England/Manchester City/ FC Barcelona) and Leah Williamson (England/Arsenal).

In October, Putellas won the rival Women's Ballon d'Or for the second year in a row. Mead and Kerr were runners-up.

Putellas also won the FIFA award in 2021, when Canada captain Christine Sinclair finished fifth.

In 2022, Fleming helped Canada qualify for the 2023 Women’s World Cup while finishing runner-up at the CONCACAF W Championship. Fleming was tied for the competition scoring lead with three goals in five matches and was named to the tournament all-star team.

At club level, she helped Chelsea win the FA Women’s Super League and FA Cup in England.

The year also saw Fleming lead out Canada for the first time and then mark her milestone 100th senior international appearance, in June against South Korea.

Priestman is one of six candidates for Best FIFA Women’s Coach. The other nominees are Sonia Bompastor (Olympique Lyonnais), Emma Hayes (Chelsea), Pia Sundhage (Brazil); Martina Voss-Tecklenburg (Germany) and Sarina Wiegman (England).

Hayes won the 2021 FIFA award with Priestman finishing fourth, just failing to make the list of finalists, despite leading Canada to Olympic gold.

Under Priestman, the sixth-ranked Canadian women went 11-3-3 in 2022 with wins over No. 2 Germany, No. 9 Brazil and No. 12 Australia. Canada also tied No. 4 England on the road.

Other men's nominees are Julian Alvarez (Argentina/Club Atletico River Plate/Manchester City), Jude Bellingham (England/BV Borussia 09 Dortmund), Karim Benzema (France/Real Madrid), Kevin De Bruyne (Belgium/Manchester City), Erling Haaland (Norway/BV Borussia 09 Dortmund/Manchester City), Achraf Hakimi (Morocco/Paris Saint-Germain); Robert   Lewandowski (Poland/Bayern Munich/FC Barcelona), Sadio Mane (Senegal /Liverpool/Bayern Munich), Luka Modric (Croatia/Real Madrid), Mohamed Salah (Egypt/Liverpool) and Vinicius Junior (Brazil/Real Madrid CF).

Lewandowski won the FIFA award the last two years. Benzema is the current Ballon d'Or winner.

Canadidates for Best FIFA Men's Manager are Carlo Ancelotti (Real Madrid), Didier Deschamps (France), Pep Guardiola (Manchester City); Walid Regragui (Morocco) and Lionel Scaloni (Argentina).

Nominees for The Best FIFA Men’s Goalkeeper are Alisson Becker (Brazil/Liverpool), Montreal-born Yassine Bounou (Morocco/Sevilla), Thibaut Courtois (Belgium/Real Madrid), Ederson (Brazil/Manchester City) and Emiliano Martínez (Argentina/Aston Villa).

The Best FIFA Women's Goalkeeper nominees are Ann-Katrin Berger (Germany/Chelsea), Mary Earps (England/Manchester United), Christiane Endler (Chile/Olympique Lyonnais), Merle  Frohms (Germany/Eintracht Frankfurt/VfL Wolfsburg), Alyssa Naeher (U.S./Chicago Red Stars) and Sandra Panos García-Villamil (Spain/FC Barcelona).

Canada's Stephanie Labbé was a finalist for the award last year. She has since retired and is now the Vancouver Whitecaps' general manager of women’s soccer.

Two "expert panels" — one for women’s football and one for men’s football — selected the candidates for the players’, goalkeepers’ and coaches’ categories. Canadian Dwayne De Rosario was on the men's panel.

Fans can vote on the awards via the FIFA website. The three finalists in each of the categories will be announced in early February.


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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 12, 2023.

Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press