It’s no secret that gender inequalities in the football industry are monumental. Between salaries and benefits, women still have to work twice as hard to receive less than half of what players like Lionel Messi, for example, receive.
That’s why, while the mainstream is still fixated on the Argentine player’s seventh Ballon d’Or, we wanted to put the spotlight on Barça’s talented female midfielder Alexia Putellas, who also received the Ballon d’Or last Monday in Paris.
Putellas became the first Spanish international to win the Ballon d’Or since 1960 after leading her club to the treble this year, ESPN explained.
Upon being honored, Putellas was named the best player in the world after being named UEFA Women’s Player of the Year in August, also becoming the first Spaniard to win it since Luis Suarez in 1960.
“Honestly, it is a bit emotional. Very special. It is great to be here with all my teammates. We’ve lived and experienced so much together, especially last season,” she said. “I would like to thank all my teammates, all my teammates throughout my career, and the ones I have right now. This is an individual prize, but football is a team sport.”
Putellas, 27, scored 26 goals last season as Barça won the treble and has continued her fine form in the current campaign, with 14 goals in 13 games.
After spending a year in Barça’s youth academy when she was younger, Putellas spent her formative years at Espanyol, breaking into the first team at 16 before joining Levante at 17.
In 2012, at the age of 18, she returned to Barça.
Alexia Putellas becomes the third woman to win the Ballon d’Or after Ada Hegerberg, the inaugural winner in 2018, and Megan Rapinoe, who won it in 2019. Prior to that, there was no such tribute for female players.
And while no one detracts from the merit of male players like Messi, we can only celebrate on our feet that honor is finally being given to whom honor is due in industries as powerful as football, where women have not been taken seriously.
One need only recall when Hegerberg was invited to twerk live by host DJ Martin Solveig at the inaugural Women’s Ballon d’Or awards ceremony in 2018.
Hegerberg, who helped Lyon win the French title and the Champions League by scoring in the final, edged out Denmark’s Pernille Harder for the award but appeared embarrassed when Solveig asked her if she wanted to dance in celebration and “knew how to twerk.”
The 23-year-old said “no” and appeared to try to leave the stage before reluctantly agreeing to dance to another song with Solveig.
This was just three years ago. That’s why today, Alexia Putellas’ recognition is more important than ever.