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Spain’s Aitana Bonmatí wins Ballon d’Or for World Cup year

(Marc Atkins/Getty Images)

Aitana Bonmatí won the 2023 Ballon d’Or after leading Spain to its first-ever Women’s World Cup title.

The 25-year-old midfielder took home the Golden Ball award at this summer’s tournament in Australia and New Zealand. She also won the 2022-23 player of the year awards from UEFA and the Champions League, and she won the Liga F, Champions League and Supercopa titles with FC Barcelona.

Her Barcelona teammate, 19-year-old forward Salma Paralluelo, finished third in the Ballon d’Or voting. So it came as no surprise that the Spanish club, which had six of the 30 total nominees, won Women’s Team of the Year.

Australia striker Sam Kerr finished as runner-up to Bonmatí. Sophia Smith, the reigning NWSL MVP and one U.S. player among the nominees, ranked 25th overall.

Bonmati’s win makes three in a row for Spain. Alexia Putellas won the 2021 and 2022 awards but missed most of the 2022-23 season with an ACL tear.

USWNT forward Megan Rapinoe won in 2019, while her teammate Alex Morgan placed third. No other USWNT players have finished in the top three since the Ballon d’Or Féminin first was awarded in 2018.

A number of prominent women’s players were unable to attend Monday’s ceremony in Paris, which was held during the FIFA women’s international window. Georgia Stanway, one of four England players nominated for the Ballon d’Or, called out the scheduling.

“It’s unfortunate that we couldn’t be there,” Stanway said. “We spoke about it as a group and said it would be nice in the future if the ceremony wasn’t on a matchday minus one day so we can all enjoy the experience. … If it was planned a little better, then it would be easier for a lot of female footballers to be there.”