Today marks two weeks until the footballing world eagerly turns its attention to Zurich’s Kongresshaus as the curtain rises on the FIFA Ballon d’Or Gala. This milestone provides an ideal opportunity for us to start the week with a striking statistic about the beautiful game’s most prestigious individual award. This time we focus on the women’s category of the event.
Two Asians have stood on the FIFA World Player of the Year podium. To date, Japan's Homare Sawa is the only representative of the world’s most populous continent to have won this prestigious accolade, back in 2011. China's Sun Wen previously came second in 2001 and third in 2002.
Since the award’s inception in 2001, 37 of the 42 top-three finishers have hailed from the United States, Germany and Brazil. China PR (two) and Japan (one) account for three of the remaining podium places, while the other two have gone to Sweden’s Hanna Ljungberg in 2003 and England’s Kelly Smith in 2009, both of whom finished third.