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Guardian names Footballer of the Year 2023

Spain’s World Cup-winning forward Jenni Hermoso is the Guardian’s Footballer of the Year for 2023.

Guardian names Footballer of the Year 2023
Suzanne Wrack: “The rise of Spain’s national team, playing a brand of football so synonymous with football in the country, has been a joyous part of the development of women’s football.”

The Guardian says its Footballer of the Year award is given to a player who has done something truly remarkable, whether by overcoming adversity, helping others or setting a sporting example by acting with exceptional honesty.

Hermoso is a prolific record goal scorer for Spain, and was part of the squad that won the 2023 Fifa Women’s World Cup, defeating England 1-0. Hailed as one the tournaments most exceptional players, Hermoso was awarded the Adidas Silver Ball award. Hermoso, who plays for the Liga MX Femenil club CF Pachuca and for the Spain women's national team, is honoured for her impact, bravery and commitment to changing women's football, added the Guardian.

Shortly after her team's World Cup victory this year, Hermoso’s celebrations were overshadowed when former Spanish football federation president Luis Rubiales kissed Hermoso on the lips without her consent. Rubiales has since been charged with sexual assault. Hermoso has been praised for her commitment to justice, saying in a speech: “To all those people who do not have a loudspeaker to make themselves heard, I want to say that this battle belongs to all of us. We win on the field and off the field so as to ensure that sport and society are inclusive and protect us all.”

Suzanne Wrack, women’s football correspondent for the Guardian, said: “The rise of Spain’s national team, playing a brand of football so synonymous with football in the country, has been a joyous part of the development of women’s football. Their rise to the top was exposed as being all the more extraordinary after the actions of former president of the Spanish football federation Luis Rubiales following the country’s historic triumph in the final. Beneath the veneer of success and development lay a toxic misogynistic culture and concentrated power. The decision, then, of Jenni Hermoso to resist the pressure she was put under to condone the actions of Rubiales, when she should have been focused on celebrating a career-defining achievement, instead condemning what had happened and seizing the opportunity to starkly show the world exactly what the players in the women’s national team have spent more than a decade protesting against was brave and game changing."

Will Woodward, the Guardian’s head of sport, said: "We are delighted to announce Jenni Hermoso as the eighth annual Guardian footballer of the year. Hermoso was one of the great players of the Women’s World Cup. At the moment of her crowning glory she was plunged into a controversy of someone else’s making. Yet she and her team-mates were able to use this to demand and achieve change, pushing for respect, dignity and equality in football."

The Guardian says Hermoso follows last year's winner; fellow Spanish footballer Virginia Torrecilla (2022), who was awarded the prize for her journey in overcoming adversity. Other winners of the Guardian Footballer of the Year award include Simon Kjaer (2021), Marcus Rashford (2020) and Megan Rapinoe (2019).

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