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Homare Sawa: FIFA's best women's soccer player of 2011 (PHOTO)

Homare Sawa, the Japanese midfielder who was the leading scorer in the Women's World Cup, was named the best women's soccer player of the year.

Homare sawa fifa 2012 01 09Enlarge
Japanese footballer, Homare Sawa (C), the president of the Japanese football association Junji Ogura (R) and Japanese Womens' football team coach Norio Sasaki pose with their awards during the FIFA ballon d'or ceremony on January 9, 2012 at the Kongresshaus in Zurich. (Franck Fife/AFP/Getty Images)

Today, the best player in the 2011 Women's World Cup was named the best player in the world.

Homare Sawa, the 33-year-old Japanese star who was the leading scorer in the 2011 Women's World Cup, helping her country defeat the United States and win the World Cup in July, was named the winner of FIFA's Ballon D'Or award, the AP reported.

The award is given by the international soccer organization to the best male and female player of the year.

Though it was her first time winning the award, Sawa is no fresh face. Her performance in 2011 marked her fifth World Cup with Japan and FIFA notes that she debuted with Japan's women's team, the "Nadeshiko," when she was just 15 years old. It was Sawa's first time winning the award, and her victory ends a five-year winning streak for Brazil's Marta. Marta, along with Sawa and the United States's Abby Wambach, was considered a leading contender for the award.

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During the World Cup, Sawa indicated her desire to play well for her country, which had been struck by a tsunami and devastated by a meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactor only months earlier. "As players, there is nothing much we can do for Japan, but we want to do as well as we can to help our country," she told the Los Angeles Times in July.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/japan/120109/homare-sawa-best-womens-soccer-player-2011