FIFA adamant that unknown Castellanos was a legitimate choice as Best nominee

By Andrew Warshaw

October 24 – FIFA have hit back at claims that it showed scant regard for the status of women’s football by naming little-known teenage striker Deyna Castellanos on its female player-of-the-year shortlist for Monday’s ceremony in London.

Castellanos plays for the Florida State university team and has never represented her native Venezuela at senior or even under-20 level.

Ahead of the awards ceremony, 2015 World Cup winner Megan Rapinoe of the United States said she had never heard of Castellanos and that the inclusion of the student was an insult to the women’s game. The youngster ended up coming third behind Lieke Martens and Carli Lloyd.

Rapinoe blasted FIFA by saying the selection of Castellanos was indicative of an organisation that’s “old, male and stale”. But FIFA counter that Rapinoe simply did not understand the voting procedure, pointing out that it did not choose any of the nominees or the winners of the awards and that this was the responsibility of an international jury comprising coaches, team captains, journalists and fans.

“Each of the four groups of voters has the same electoral weight irrespective of the actual number of voters in those groups,” FIFA told Insideworldfootball in an emailed statement which highlighted the fact that a panel of  six experts was responsible for drawing up the final shortlist of three.

“The process is clear and transparent and we are not involved in the final selection of nominees,” FIFA added, stressing with some justification that the panel comprised some of the best-known figures in the women’s game including, notably, Mia Hamm, Rapinoe’s compatriot and arguably the most revered female player of all time in the United States.

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