The Women’s Ballon d’Or – or Ballon d’Or Femenin as it is called in French – is an individual prize in women’s football presented by France Football which was first introduced in 2018.
The Women’s Ballon d’Or follows the same procedure as the Men’s award, with journalists from across the world getting to vote for their candidate for the best player in women’s football of the previous season.
The full list of 30 nominees for the Women’s Ballon d’Or 2023 was revealed to the public on September 6, and the winner will be announced on October 30 at the main event in Paris.
List of Women’s Ballon d’Or 2023 Contenders
The previous two editions of the Women’s Ballon d’Or were won by Barcelona Femeni’s captain Alexia Putellas but she was not nominated this year as he missed the majority of the 2022/23 through injury. Instead, the top candidate for the award is her club and national team teammate Aitana Bonmati.
As mentioned above, Aitana Bonmati is seen as the top contender for the prize by the media. The Barcelona Femeni midfielder was nominated for the Women’s Ballon d’Or in the past but never made the top three. This year, through a combination of team achievements and individual brilliance, she is widely expected to claim the prize.
At 25 years old, Aitana was a key player for Barcelona Femeni as the Catalans won the league title in Spain as well as the UEFA Women’s Champions League. For her successes at club level, Bonmati was awarded UEFA Women's Player of the Year back in August.
And perhaps more importantly, Aitana triumphed with Spain at the FIFA 2023 Women’s World cup where the was also named Player of the Tournament. Across all competitions, the women’s version of Iniesta – as Pep Guardiola called her – contributed with 19 goals and 21 assists.
Olga Carmona plays for Real Madrid Femenino and was less successful at the club level. Her side finished second in Liga F behind their rivals from Barcelona, and lost the Copa del Reina to their other rivals, Atletico Madrid Femenino.
Carmona was a consistent performer and regular starter for Real Madrid Femenino, recording seven goals and two assists, but where she truly shone was at the FIFA Women’s 2023 World Cup.
The 23-year-old left-back came in clutch twice for La Roja. First, she made the score 2-1 against Sweden in the semifinals in the last minute of the game. And second, Carmona scored the only goal in Spain’s victory over England in the final, winning the first ever Women’s World Cup title in La Roja’s history.
Olga made headlines not only through her goal; hours after the final whistle, Carmona tragically learned from her family that her dad had passed away on the same day but they chose to keep it a secret until after the match.
Another player that impressed at the FIFA Women’s 2023 World Cup was England’s goalkeeper Mary Earps.
While Earps could not palm away Olga Carmona’s strike, the Manchester United Women shot-stopper was brilliant at the tournament in Australia and New Zealand. The 30-year-old played a vital role in England's run to the final, keeping three clean sheets, conceding just four goals in seven games, and even saving a penalty shot in the final. For her heroics, Mary won the Golden Glove.
Earps had a decent year at club level too, reaching the first FA Cup final in Man United Women's history and keeping 21 clean sheets across all competitions. However, we have to keep in mind that goalkeepers are often overlooked when it comes to individual awards.
Alexandra Popp, on the other hand, plays as a striker, just the right position for individual awards. The 32-year-old German was nominated for the Women’s Ballon d’Or last season but could not break into the top three, so she has to hope for better luck this year around.
Popp had an amazing season at the individual level scoring 31 goals across all competitions and providing seven assists. Thanks to her goal scoring feats in Bundesliga, Alexandra won the local Golden Boot at the end of the 2022/23 term.
However, Popp’s collective achievements are not comparable to some of the other names on the list. While her Wolfsburg side did win the DFB-Pokal, they lost to Barcelona Femeni in the UEFA Women’s Champions League final and finished second in Women’s Bundesliga. Germany exited the FIFA 2023 Women’s World Cup at the group stages, too.
Similarly, Fridolina Rolfo plays as a forward and she similarly had a great 2022/23 campaign with Barcelona Femeni. This is to say that the Swede won the same club trophies as Aitana last term, but it is important to note that it was Fridolina who scored the winning goal in the UEFA Women’s Champions League final.
In total, Rolfo finished the previous season with 17 goals and 10 assists for the Catalans, being an undisputed starter. Fridolina also had a great FIFA 2023 Women’s World Cup run with Sweden, scoring three goals in seven matches as her team finished in third place.
Rolfo was among the nominees for the Women’s Ballon d’Or in its previous editions but never got a podium finish.