Megan Rapinoe says FIFA doesn't care about women's soccer
United States women's national team forward Megan Rapinoe blasted FIFA on Monday for including little-known striker Deyna Castellanos among its final three candidates for the Best FIFA Women's Player of 2017 award.
FIFA gave the award to Dutch forward Lieke Martens over U.S. midfielder Carli Lloyd, who won last year, and 18-year-old Castellanos, a Venezuelan forward who does not play in a professional league.
"The award just doesn't hold a lot of weight when you've got someone on the list I've never heard of," Rapinoe, who won an Olympic gold medal in 2012 and the 2015 World Cup with the United States, told the BBC ahead of the ceremony. "It signals to us and it signals to the rest of the world that FIFA doesn't really care."
Rapinoe, a forward for the National Women's Soccer League's Seattle Reign, accused football's governing body of belittling the women's game, calling FIFA "old, male and stale."
Castellanos plays soccer as an amateur at Florida State and the Santa Clarita Blue Heat in the lower-tier United Women's Soccer.
She made the FIFA list after starring at the Under-17 Women's World Cup last year, but she has never played a senior international tournament for her home country. In addition to her POY nomination, she was also a finalist for the Puskas Award, which is given for the best goal of the year.
The Puskas nomination is for a shot she made from the halfway line directly following Cameroon's stoppage-time equalizer for Venezuela's victory on Oct. 3 in the U-17 Women's World Cup. It was voted the goal of the tournament, where Venezuela finished fourth.
Rapinoe said that FIFA's choice was irresponsible.
"If some random male player, who was not even a full professional, was nominated, I'm sure they would step in for that, so it's disappointing that the same hasn't been done for us," she told the BBC.
FIFA said in a statement that the choices were made based on input from national team coaches, national team captains, media representatives and fans, with each group getting a one-quarter weighting.
The Puskas awards panel included retired U.S. women's team forward Abby Wambach; retired U.S. star Mia Hamm was part of the women's POY panel. The awards take a player's performance from November 2016 through August 2017 into consideration.
"The process is clear and transparent and we are not involved in the final selection of nominees," FIFA told the BBC in a statement. "However, we have taken note of the concerns raised by the football community and our fans and will take this feedback on board in future editions of The Best Awards."
Missing from the lists is Australia forward Sam Kerr, who became the all-time leading scorer in the NWSL in the U.S., as well as England striker Jodie Taylor, who was top scorer at Euro 2017.
Kerr joined Rapinoe in criticism of the shortlist, telling the BBC: "Not surprised, really; it's FIFA."