But since 2001, this award has been given to exactly three women: Marta (three times), Birgit Prinz (three times), and Mia Hamm (twice). As deserving as these three women are - are there really no other players that the coaches and players casting their votes can think of?
I think the lack of imagination here reflects the lack of exposure of the sport. These are basically the three players that players and coaches know best - for reasons that have far more to do with access to tournaments, to footage of the players, to, in fact, any information about women's football at the international level. These are the players that everyone is aware of.
But I think that those of us who have been watching Brazil seriously (in not just final matches, but throughout tournaments) would have nominated Cristiane. Five goals in six matches in the Olympics (for example) - and two (gorgeous) assists. She was the top scorer in the 2004 Olympics, too, by the way. Her performance in South American cup competition is also exceptional - and it looks like her presence on your roster guarantees your team silverware.
This is not to take anything away from Marta, but as a fan of international women's football, I find the lack of imagination in the selection kindof depressing. Not for what it says about the sport, but for what it says about awareness of the women playing it at the top level.
[Check out this great post from theglobalgame on Marta and her move to Los Angeles - this is possibly the most well-balanced and researched article on her to date in English!]