Three Changes We’d Make to the FIFPRO World XI

2019 called. It wants its World Cup Best XI Back.

By Alexandra Cadet

FIFA has officially released the 2020-2021 FIFPRO Women’s World XI––a “best-of” team voted on by players, for players. And lo and behold, it’s…bad. Like, really bad. So astoundingly bad that it’s horrifying to think that players looked at this XI and thought, “Yep, this is the one.”

In all seriousness, there are some questionable selections in this XI, from the complete exclusion of Barcelona’s squad to the inclusion of players who peaked back in 2019. But even if this team is a bit of a fixer-upper, perhaps it can be saved with a little bit of love––or rather, a few tweaks. Here are three changes that we’d make to the FIFPRO Women’s World XI.

  1. Replace Alex Morgan with Sam Kerr
    Look, we love Alex Morgan. No one can deny that she’s one of the most influential soccer players of all time, and taking her out of this XI isn’t meant to be a condemnation of her entire career. But on the pitch, her season wasn’t anything to write home about. She made just four appearances for Tottenham Hotspur, scored five goals in thirteen games with the Pride, and had a shockingly quiet Olympics campaign. Hopefully, she’ll blow everyone out of the water now that she’s in San Diego, but we can’t justify keeping her on this team.

    On the other hand, Sam Kerr was on fire last year: A WSL Golden Boot, a deep Olympic run, a Champions League final, even a league title. She was utterly brilliant, and deserved a place in the XI. Though both athletes are great, Morgan getting a spot over Kerr is inexplicable. 
  1. Replace Carli Lloyd with Alexia Putellas

Wait, wait, wait! Put your tomatoes away for one second. Gotham fans, please don’t organize a hit on us. Just give us a chance to explain why we want to take a legend like Lloyd off of this list.

Not one Barcelona Feminí player made the FIFPRO XI. This makes no sense for various reasons, the biggest one being that they won a darn treble. Lieke Martens, Jenni Hermoso, and Asisat Oshoala all merited recognition for their performances, but the biggest snub is arguably Ballon D’Or winner Alexia Putellas, who’s a midfielder, just like Lloyd.

In a bizarre move, Alexia Putellas was left out of the XI. (Image courtesy of Eurosport)

Therefore, Lloyd has to go. Her final season was solid, if a bit mediocre: she scored 11 goals for the USWNT in 2021, and was crucial to Gotham’s campaign for a playoff spot. But that pales in comparison to Putellas, who…well, her resumé speaks for itself. Sorry, Carli. Maybe there’s a place for you on a Legends XI? 

  1. Replace Lucy Bronze with Ashley Lawrence
    Speaking of team-wide shafting, why is there such a dearth of PSG players in the XI? They did the impossible last year, beating Lyon to the title and ousting them from the Champions League. Ashley Lawrence should’ve been a shoo-in for the left back spot in the XI; she played a major role in both PSG’s D1F win and Canada’s gold medal. But no, FIFPRO just had to give it to the left back who was injured for a large chunk of 2021. That definitely passes the logic test. 

Despite some of FIFPRO’s selections being laughable, this XI honestly makes us sad. According to the organization, 3,675 female athletes from 46 different countries took part in the voting process this year. How is it possible that the players themselves are so woefully unfamiliar with recent WoSo developments? 

“Either exposure needs to improve, or players need to take more time and research before they jot down names without much thought into recent performance,” tweeted Heather O’Reilly after the team was unveiled. “Respect the game.” 

Male athletes can typically afford to be lazy with their votes and put out hideous XIs, since they benefit from higher exposure either way. But women’s soccer players have much more to lose in terms of reputation and proper treatment. Now that the talent pool is expanding in the NWSL and abroad, they need to dedicate more time to watching their own leagues and uplifting the best among them. The consequences for the women’s game could be dire if they don’t.

Share this story:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.