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Vivianne Miedema ‘didn’t feel appreciated’ as woman at Ballon d’Or

Vivianne Miedema is considered one of the best women's players in the world for Arsenal and the Netherlands. (Alex Burstow/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

Vivianne Miedema, a nominee for the Ballon d’Or Féminin this year, criticized the global soccer awards ceremony for its treatment of the women’s game.

The Arsenal and Dutch striker called attention to the disparity between the number of men’s players honored at the event versus the number of women. Of the seven awards handed out at the Ballon d’Or, only one represents women’s soccer. Spain and Barcelona midfielder Alexia Putellas won the award recognizing the best player in the international women’s game in 2022 for the second straight year.

“I didn’t feel appreciated as a woman footballer there,” Miedema told BBC’s “Behind the Goals” podcast. “If they want to have women involved, they have to do it in a different way. They had five or six different awards for the men’s game while the women only have one. If they want to make it equal, they have to give the same awards to men’s and women’s football.”

Miedema attended the event in October with her partner, England striker Beth Mead, who finished as runner-up to Putellas. A photo of the two on the red carpet together circulated after the event with a caption describing Mead as Miedema’s “guest.”

The 26-year-old joked about the mistake on Twitter at the time but said on the podcast this week that it reflected the overall lack of respect for the women athletes.

“Waking up the next morning and that picture pops up, that states the issue we had the night before,” she said. “We’ve got the number two from that year, who should arguably have been number one, turning up to the event as ‘my guest.’ That would obviously never happen if [Lionel] Messi and Neymar had been walking next to each other.

“We obviously joke about it, but that shows there are so many improvements to be made. It needs to be organized so much better.”

Miedema is the all-time leading scorer for the Netherlands across both the men’s and women’s teams. Since returning to Arsenal this season from a mental and physical break, she has scored four goals in four games to lift the Gunners to second place in the WSL table and first place in Group C of the Champions League standings.