United States star Megan Rapinoe and three of her international team-mates are among 12 nominees for the Best FIFA Women's Player Award for 2019.

A first-time recipient will be named in Milan on September 23 after former winners Marta, Lieke Martens and Carli Lloyd all failed to make the shortlist.

Reign FC forward Rapinoe shapes as a strong contender after inspiring USA to glory at the Women's World Cup in France.

The 34-year-old scored six goals in five games, including one in the 2-0 victory over Netherlands in the final, to claim a Golden Ball-Golden Boot double.

Rapinoe's compatriots Alex Morgan, Rose Lavelle and Julie Ertz are also in contention, as are England pair Ellen White and Lucy Bronze, who claimed the Silver Ball.

Right-back Bronze and striker Ada Hegerberg, last year's inaugural Women's Ballon d'Or winner, feature among four players from the Lyon side that won the Women's Champions League.

The list of contenders has been expanded to 12 from the usual 10 due to a tie in the number of votes received by some nominees.

 

The Best FIFA Women's Player nominees:

Lucy Bronze (Lyon & England)
Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars & United States)
Caroline Graham Hansen (Barcelona & Norway)
Ada Hegerberg (Lyon)
Amandine Henry (Lyon & France)
Sam Kerr (Chicago Red Stars & Australia)
Rose Lavelle (Washington Spirit & United States)
Vivianne Miedema (Arsenal & Netherlands)
Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride & United States)
Megan Rapinoe (Reign FC & United States)
Wendie Renard (Lyon & France)
Ellen White (Manchester City & England)

The United States have opened up the biggest gap at the top of the women's FIFA rankings in history following their World Cup triumph.

Jill Ellis' side won their second successive title last Sunday with a 2-0 victory over Netherlands in the final in Lyon.

They remain in first place in the international standings but now boast a record gap of 121 points over second-place Germany, who lost to Sweden in the quarter-finals.

Runners-up Netherlands are up five places to third, their best ever position, while bronze medallists Sweden climb three places to sixth.

France stay fourth, with England, beaten by USA in the semi-finals and then Sweden in the third-place play-off match, slip two places to fifth.

The biggest movers are the Philippines (67th place, up seven) and India (57th place, up six), who are rewarded for strong showings in qualifying for next year's Olympic Games.

The list now comprises 158 teams, up from 155, which is also an all-time record.

Donald Trump tweeted his congratulations to the United States for their Women's World Cup triumph on Sunday, but whether he hosts the team at the White House remains to be seen.

USA defeated Netherlands 2-0 to make it back-to-back titles on the global stage, with Megan Rapinoe and Rose Lavelle scoring the goals in the second half.

Shortly after the final whistle, USA president Trump wrote on Twitter: "Congratulations to the U.S. Women's Soccer Team on winning the World Cup! Great and exciting play. America is proud of you all!"

Trump has been outspoken during USA's run in France as he went on a Twitter rant after a video surfaced of Rapinoe making it clear she would not visit the White House should her side end up as champions.

He also called out the 34-year-old, who ended the tournament as winner of the Golden Boot for top goalscorer and Golden Ball for best player, for protesting during the national anthem by refusing to sing or put her hand over her chest. 

He wrote, in part: "Megan should never disrespect our country, the White House, or our flag, especially since so much has been done for her and the team."

There remain questions as to whether the national team will attend the White House if they receive an invite, but head coach Jill Ellis is not convinced any such offer will be made.

When asked if she would attend a celebration at the White House, she said: "I haven't been invited yet." The reporter responded by saying: "I'm sure you will." Ellis, however, said with a laugh: "Well, I wouldn't bet on that."

Megan Rapinoe was awarded the Golden Boot and Golden Ball after inspiring the United States to Women's World Cup glory.

The 34-year-old opened the scoring from the penalty spot as USA defeated Netherlands 2-0 in Lyon on Sunday to claim back-to-back global titles.

She finished level on six goals with team-mate Alex Morgan and England forward Ellen White but edged the Golden Boot by virtue of a better minutes-per-goal ratio.

It marked Rapinoe's first Golden Boot in her third World Cup appearance and she could not describe the feeling after the match.

"I don't know how to feel right now, it's ridiculous," she said.

Rapinoe started with one goal in the group stage and followed it up with back-to-back braces, scoring all four of USA's goals in the knockout phase before the semi-final, for which she was an unused substitute. 

She was also crowned the tournament's best player for her performances, with England's Lucy Bronze taking the Silver Ball and Rose Lavelle, who scored USA's second in the final, claiming third.

Megan Rapinoe dubbed her United States team-mates "crazy" and "special" after she scored the opening goal in their 2-0 Women's World Cup final victory over Netherlands.

The 34-year-old Reign FC forward scored a 61st-minute penalty to put Jill Ellis' side ahead against a resilient Netherlands team before Rose Lavelle lit up the game with a virtuoso goal eight minutes later.

The result helped USA triumph for the fourth time on the biggest stage of the women's game and Rapinoe, who was part of the team that won the tournament in 2015, paid tribute to the spirit in the camp.

"I don't think I can [describe it]," the forward told BBC Sport. "It's unbelievable.

"Just to know all the people in our group who put in so much work, obviously the players, we have all our friends and family here.

"It's surreal. I don't know how to feel right now. It's ridiculous.

"We're crazy, that's what makes us special. We've got no quit in us, we're so tight and we'll do anything to win."

Lavelle's goal was her third of the tournament and Rapinoe praised the 24-year-old midfielder's creativity as being pivotal to USA's success, while highlighting her performance in the final as her best.

"That was what she's been missing, just that little bit, all tournament," said Rapinoe.

"She's been on the dribble, opening up everything for us. For her to get that reward on the biggest stage you possibly can, I'm so proud of her.

"She's a superstar, not even in the making - she's a straight-up superstar."

USA coach Jill Ellis pointed to her players' "fantastic resilience and chemistry" in her summing up of a moment she admitted left her lost for words.

Ellis previously led the USA to glory in the 2014 CONCACAF Women's Championship and the 2015 World Cup, and she said of her current squad: "They put their hearts and souls into this journey and I can't thank them enough. It has been fantastic.

"I could barely speak but I just said to them they were unbelievable, congratulations, they made history, enjoy it.

"This is unbelievable, I've got no words."

The most powerful man in the world urged her to speak only after she had finished the job, but on Sunday Megan Rapinoe became a Women's World Cup winner again having done it her way.

Jill Ellis' United States side beat Netherlands 2-0 in the final to become the first American team to retain the trophy and, naturally, it was Rapinoe, the most prominent figure at the tournament, who was front and centre.

USA were held at bay for over an hour against a robust Dutch team. Goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal was outstanding, brilliantly thwarting Julie Ertz, Sam Mewis and Alex Morgan - twice - in the first half.

But when Stefanie van der Gragt's studs caught Morgan's side, USA were awarded a penalty following a VAR review. Rapinoe had the chance to alleviate the tension and put her country on course for that winning part US President Donald Trump placed as a feeble pre-requisite for holding an opinion.

And so, in the 61st minute, Rapinoe stepped up and, with unnerving coolness, finally beat Van Veenendaal.

She ran over to the corner and delivered her signature 'Are You Not Entertained?' pose. It will be the defining image of this World Cup, which, despite the Europeans' emergence, remains in American hands after Rose Lavelle added a brilliant second eight minutes after Rapinoe's penalty.

It seems fitting that the United States ended up winning a tournament where the question, for once, has not been, 'How do we get people interested in women's football?' but, 'How do we build on it?'

USA are, after all, at the forefront of that push, with players such as Rapinoe driving the agenda on numerous issues, from LGBT rights to racial equality, while attracting audiences most other nations can only dream of.

On Saturday Rapinoe said "so much of what we have to shoulder all of the time is heavy", explaining that the football pitch gave USA players a chance to "be free", which is something not all who protest are afforded.

Colin Kaepernick, the NFL quarterback who took his team to the Super Bowl but has been out of the league for three years having knelt during the American anthem, never got another chance to "win first before he talks".

Tommie Smith and John Carlos, the two sprinters who raised their fists on the podium at the 1968 Olympics, were ostracised upon their returns to America despite winning first and then talking.

Rapinoe knew all of that and yet, admirably, she still spoke up for what she believed in. She saw the president tell her to button up on Twitter and responded with three goals her next two games on the biggest stage.

The 34-year-old did plenty of talking in France and had the final word in Lyon, finishing the job - as always - on her own terms.

Megan Rapinoe struck a 61st-minute penalty before Rose Lavelle netted a fine solo goal as the United States beat Netherlands 2-0 to become Women's World Cup winners for the fourth time.

Reign FC forward Rapinoe plundered her sixth goal of the tournament to ensure Jill Ellis' side successfully defended their title at the expense of a Netherlands team that fought bravely to overcome their underdogs tag but ultimately came up short.

The goal, which came after a VAR review highlighted Stefanie van der Gragt's foul on Alex Morgan, drew Rapinoe level with Morgan and England's Ellen White in the goalscoring stakes, while Netherlands forward Lieke Martens cut a frustrated figure as the Dutch struggled to create chances.

Lavelle provided the best moment of an entertaining clash in Lyon when she carried the ball from the centre circle to the edge of the box before producing a classy finish, the quality of which reflected everything crowds at this World Cup have come to expect from its dominant team.

The European champions certainly played their part but, perhaps fittingly after a tournament marked by the use of technology, the contest hinged on a challenge that might have gone unnoticed without it.

Sherida Spitse was booked for a late sliding challenge on Lavelle in a cagey opening spell that saw the United States fail to score inside the opening 12 minutes of a game for the first time at this year's tournament.

The USA struggled to break down a compact Dutch defence until Julie Ertz thundered a volley towards goal after 28 minutes but Sari van Veenendaal was equal to it, parrying the ball away from danger.

Van der Gragt's superb interception prevented Morgan from latching onto a long ball forward and Van Veenendaal then made two excellent saves to deny the forward before Netherlands ended a battling first-half performance with a dangerous spell of pressure.

Netherlands continued to frustrate USA until Van der Gragt's high challenge on Morgan prompted a VAR review and, after a penalty was correctly awarded, Rapinoe side-footed the ensuing spot-kick low to Van Veenendaal's left and into the net.

Vivianne Miedema tore through the USA defence with a mazy dribble but could not get her shot away and moments later Lavelle provided a finishing lesson, making space for herself on the edge of Netherlands' box before stroking a left-footed shot into the corner of the net.

Van Veenendaal made an excellent save to deny Crystal Dunn when the left-back burst clear but there was no time for her team-mates to mount a comeback as the world champions deservedly secured back-to-back titles.

Megan Rapinoe has overcome a hamstring injury to return to the United States' starting XI for the Women's World Cup final, while Lieke Martens has also been handed a start for Netherlands following a fitness test.

USA forward Rapinoe, who has scored five goals in France, missed the semi-final win over England with a "slight hamstring strain", but trained the following day and said all week she expected to be fit.

Martens' status was less assured, the Barcelona star having come off at half-time in the last-four win over Sweden due to a toe injury she sustained when celebrating her winner against Japan in the round of 16.

However, despite not being involved in the portion of training open to the media on Saturday, she is fit enough to take her place in Sarina Wiegman's side.

Christen Press, who replaced Rapinoe and scored the first goal against England, reverts back to the bench as one of two changes in the USA team, with Sam Mewis also coming in for Lindsey Horan.

The Dutch have made just one change, Anouk Dekker replacing Merel van Dongen.

Netherlands may have recorded 12 straight victories at major tournaments, but coach Sarina Wiegman knows the United States will be expected to win Sunday's Women's World Cup final.

Winners of the European Championship on home soil two years ago, Netherlands are one victory away from lifting back-to-to-back titles despite only appearing at a major tournament for the first time a decade ago.

They come up against the juggernaut of women's football in Lyon this weekend, though, with USA bidding to retain their title in their third consecutive final.

However, Wiegman has no qualms with the fact that her team are not fancied to prevail. 

"The expectation is different now," she admitted.

"The US are favourites and we're the underdog, and we're fine with that."

There has been debate about whether USA have been just confident or overly arrogant at the tournament. Their goal celebrations have irked some and England boss Phil Neville was unimpressed that two USA staff members visited his team's hotel ahead of the semi-final in case Jill Ellis' team moved in before the final.

Wiegman, who spent a year in the States during her playing career, does not consider Netherlands' next opponents as cocky, though.

"I just think America has a lot of confidence and that's okay," she said.

"They have a very good status, they have won many tournaments and are at the top level all the time.

"It's also a little part of the culture, I think. That's just the way it is."

The Dutch coach's time in North Carolina three decades ago was pivotal in her development, with Wiegman playing under future World Cup-winning coach Anson Dorrance and alongside USA internationals such as Mia Hamm and Kristine Lilly.

Now she will look to use those lessons to plot the Americans' downfall.

"I learned so many things over there," added Wiegman, who revealed star forward Lieke Martens will have a late fitness test on her foot injury.

"What I picked up at the time was a huge positIvity about developing team spirit. I really felt that family feeling and I was in a top team with top coaches.

"Whether it can help me tomorrow, I'm not sure."

Lieke Martens will have a fitness test on the morning of the Women's World Cup final between Netherlands and the United States.

Martens, who plays her club football at Barcelona, was forced off in the Dutch's semi-final victory over Sweden on Wednesday because of a foot problem she suffered when celebrating her last-16 winner against Japan.

The 26-year-old was not involved in the part of training open to the media on Saturday, having done a separate recovery programme the previous day.

Martens had said she hoped to be fit to play in the final after the victory over the Swedes and Netherlands coach Sarina Wiegman confirmed her star forward would be assessed prior to kick-off on Sunday.

"She's preparing for the game," Wiegman said. "We're not sure if she can start but we're working on it.

"We don't know the outcome yet, so we'll decide tomorrow morning."

Megan Rapinoe warmed up for Sunday's Women's World Cup final by blasting FIFA over this weekend's scheduling and the growing gender gap in prize money.

The 34-year-old will bid to claim her second World Cup winners' medal when USA face Netherlands in Lyon, on the same day the Copa America and Gold Cup finals also take place.

That has irked Rapinoe, who also took aim at FIFA over the gulf in prize money available for the women's and men's World Cups.

While FIFA president Gianni Infantino on Friday announced plans to double prize money for the 2023 Women's World Cup from $30million to $60million, the pot for the men's tournament is increasing from $400million in 2018 to $440m at Qatar 2022, meaning the disparity will actually grow by a further $10m.

"It certainly is not fair," said Rapinoe.

"We should double [the women's prize money] now and then use that number to double it or quadruple it for the next time. That's what I mean when I talk about, 'Do we feel respected'.

"A quote came out that I said, 'FIFA doesn't care about the women's game'. That's what I mean. If you really care about each game in the same way, are you letting the gap grow?

"I'm not saying the prize money is $450million [for the women] this time or next time around. [I] understand that, for a lot of different reasons, the men's game financially is far advanced than the women's game.

"[But] If we really care about letting the gap grow, are you scheduling three finals on the same day? No, you're not. Are you letting federations have their teams play two games in the four years between each tournament? No, you're not. That's what I mean about the level of care.

"We need attention and detail and the best minds that we can possibly have in the women's game helping it grow every single day. It's a very complex problem, complex thing to be a part of.

"But the resources are there, and I think the willingness and the brain power is all there – people wanting to work in the women's game and make it as good as it can. It's all there, it's just a matter of wanting to do it and caring enough about it to make it happen.

"We're making a World Cup in Qatar happen, that shows you the amount of care they have about the men's World Cup, considering all of the issues that are happening there."

Rapinoe, like many of her American team-mates, has used her platform to speak out about inequality in numerous areas of society, and once again reiterated she has no plans to attend the White House should Jill Ellis' team retain their trophy.

She is also annoyed that the Women's World Cup final will be one of three showpiece events happening on Sunday.

The World Cup date had been in the calendar since September 2017, long before CONCACAF revealed the date for the Gold Cup final and CONMEBOL announced plans for the Copa America showpiece.

"It's terrible scheduling for everyone," said Rapinoe, who expects to be fit to face Netherlands despite missing the semi-final win over England with a hamstring strain.

"That's a terrible idea to put everything on the same day. In every way. There's two other finals going on but this is the World Cup final, this is like cancel-everything day.

"The World Cup final is set so far in advance. It's actually unbelievable. So, no, I don't think that we feel the same level of respect, certainly that FIFA has for the men and just in general."

A FIFA spokesperson said the global governing body and the different confederations had discussed the schedule "in general to minimise any potential timing clashes".

FIFA's statement said: "The scheduling of the different events has gone through a comprehensive consultancy process that has involved all key stakeholders and taken into account different aspects of both the women’s and men’s international match calendars."

Megan Rapinoe looks set to be fit for the United States' Women's World Cup final against Netherlands, saying on Saturday she expects to be "good to go".

The striker, who has scored five goals in France including successive braces in the knockout wins against Spain and France, was a surprise absentee for the last-four victory over England because of a slight hamstring strain.

Rapinoe said after that game she expected to be ready for USA's third World Cup final in a row at the weekend and, having trained in the days leading up to the clash with the European champions, the 34-year-old believes she will be passed fit.

"As of now, I'm expecting to be ready for tomorrow. I feel good," Rapinoe said at USA's pre-match press conference.

"That's all I can really say right now. We have one more training session. 

"I'm pretty open and honest with you. Nothing hidden. I expect to be good to go for tomorrow."

Christen Press took Rapinoe's place against England on Tuesday and headed their opening goal in a 2-1 win.

Anson Dorrance led the United States to their first Women's World Cup triumph in 1991, but one of his former players is out to end the American dominance this Sunday.

Netherlands coach Sarina Wiegman spent one year with Dorrance's hugely successful North Carolina team in 1989 and called playing alongside United States greats like Mia Hamm, Kristine Lilly and Shannon Higgins "a football paradise".

Wiegman recently said "my dream from that moment was to see the same situation back home", a wish that can be fulfilled this weekend if the Oranje defeat defending champions USA in Lyon.

Split loyalties would leave some conflicted, but Dorrance, who also coached current USA stars Crystal Dunn and Tobin Heath, cannot wait for the contest.

"Having Sarina in the final against my own country it's, 'God, take me now, it's never going to get better than this'," long-time North Carolina coach Dorrance told Omnisport.

"I'm getting these text messages from everyone saying, 'It doesn't matter what happens, you're going to be celebrating something'. And to some extent that's true.

"I do really admire what Sarina has done. For me, this is a wonderful World Cup final."

Wiegman had been at a FIFA invitational international tournament in 1988 when Dorrance approached her over the possibility of coming to America.

The state of the game in her country meant she thought playing "at a good level was literally impossible", but the midfielder went on to become the first Netherlands international – male or female – to win 100 caps.

"She was playing with American national team royalty in Kristine Lilly and Mia Hamm," Dorrance recalled.

"She had all the qualities of someone who was brought up in a wonderful soccer culture.

"Everyone really liked her. I felt privileged to coach her."

That positive impression was backed up by Higgins – now Higgins-Cirovski – who would feature when Dorrance's USA team beat Norway in the first ever World Cup final in 1991.

"She was a really good player, very smart, very technical - a student of the game - just intelligent," Higgins-Cirovski said of Wiegman.

"She was an absolute sweetheart. She was highly competitive - we all were, but she had a really good way about her."

Wiegman began a career in teaching upon returning home, but took a coaching post for the newly formed domestic league in 2007 and never looked back – permanently taking the Netherlands job a decade later and guiding them to European Championship success on home soil later that year.

Now she stands on the brink of leading her country to back-to-back major tournament titles as she aims to dethrone the nation where Dorrance gave her such a fine football education.

"It's not a strange feeling at all – it's a joyous one. It's like you've got two kids playing on opposite teams in a World Cup final, you root for both of them," Dorrance added of Sunday's final.

"The fact I've got Sarina coaching the Dutch... if the Dutch do happen to win, the pain of seeing my country losing will be a lot less, I promise you."

Alex Morgan hinted the United States will snub Donald Trump's White House invitation and is confident Jill Ellis' team will not be split on the issue.

It is customary for champions to visit the US president after winning a sporting title, with Morgan and her team-mates congratulated by Barack Obama when they won the Women's World Cup in 2015.

However, since Trump succeeded Obama following the 2016 election, teams like the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles and NBA's Golden State Warriors have had their White House offers withdrawn after numerous players from both teams declared they had no intention of making the trip for political reasons.

Morgan's outspoken team-mate Megan Rapinoe has already she said is "not going to the f****** White House" and though Trump responded to that by inviting Ellis' squad regardless of whether they beat Netherlands in Sunday's final, it appears the offer will be rejected.

"I think we'll make that decision after we finish Sunday's game," USA captain Morgan said.

"I think there's been a lot of talk prematurely about the White House and about Trump.

"First we have to do business and then I think you guys know the answer to the question anyway."

The White House pulled the plug on the Eagles' scheduled visit following their Super Bowl LII victory in 2018 because "the vast majority of the team" wished to stay away.

Morgan believes there will be no factions in Ellis' squad when it comes to their decision.

"I can't say 100 per cent but this team is very close and we've always made decisions together so I can't really see us deciding to part in that way," she added.

"But at the same time, if someone feels strongly then who are we to tell them to do or not do something?"

Trump took to Twitter last week to express his disapproval of Rapinoe's comments, telling the striker to "WIN first before she TALKS!"

Yet Rapinoe was unrepentant when speaking ahead of the semi-final victory over England, which she missed with a slight hamstring strain.

"I don't think that I would want to go [to the White House] and I would encourage my team-mates to think hard about lending that platform or having that co-opted by an administration that doesn't feel the same way and doesn't fight for the same things that we fight for," said Rapinoe, who expects to be fit for the final.

Lieke Martens had a separate recovery programme away from Netherlands' main training session on Friday as she bids to get fit for the Women's World Cup final against the United States.

The Barcelona star, who was voted player of the tournament when the Dutch became European champions on home soil two years ago, came off at half-time of the semi-final victory over Sweden on Wednesday due to a lingering foot issue.

Martens injured her toe during the celebrations after her late winner in the last 16 against Japan when team-mate Jill Roord stepped up on it and, despite playing 90 minutes in the quarter-final win over Italy, the 26-year-old said she was in pain from the start of the Sweden game.

When Netherlands trained in front of the media on Friday, Martens was in the gym away from the main group.

Asked on Wednesday whether she was hopeful of facing USA, Martens had said: "As a player you always want to play the biggest game of your career and this is one of the biggest ones I'm going to hopefully play.

"I'm going to do the recovery with the medical staff, I really believe in them, I'm looking forward every single day."

USA also have concerns over a star forward, Megan Rapinoe having missed the last-four victory over England due to a "slight strain" in her hamstring.

Rapinoe has since trained, though, and she expects to be fit to face the Dutch.

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