Ballon d’Or 2022: How Asisat Oshoala became first African woman to be nominated


Barcelona striker Asisat Oshoala has become the first African woman to be nominated for the Ballon d’Or Féminin. 

The Nigerian star, who has played for the Catalonian side since 2019, is part of the 20-person shortlist for this year’s award. 

Oshoala finished as the joint top scorer in the Primera Iberdrola last season –– netting 20 times in just 19 games, despite being injured for two months. 

The forward played an integral role in Barca’s historic unbeaten domestic season, which saw the club win all 30 of their league games and finish 24 points in front of Real Sociedad in second. 

Taking to Twitter, Oshoala celebrated her nomination and paid tribute to her country. “NAIJA,” she wrote, alongside the Nigerian flag and soccer ball emojis. 

Meanwhile, in the men’s Ballon d’Or category, three African players were shortlisted –– Mo Salah, Sebastien Haller and Sadio Mane. 

Who is Ashoala? 

Ashoala is widely considered one of the greatest African female footballers of all time. 

The 27-year-old is a five-time African Women’s Footballer of the Year and was made a Member of the Order of the Niger by former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan. 

Having started her career at the Nigerian club of FC Robo, Ashoala moved to Liverpool in 2015, with then coach Matt Beard calling her “one of the best young players in the world.” 

A move to Arsenal then came about the following year, but the Nigerian star struggled for game time at the Gunners and stayed for just one season. 


After starring for the Chinese club Dalian Quanjian for two years, Barcelona secured the services of the striker in 2019. 

Across just three and a half seasons, Oshoala has scored 65 league goals and recently signed a two-year contract extension, that will keep her at the club until June 2024. 

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Barca stars dominate nominees 

Oshoala was not the only Barca star nominated for the women’s award. 

In total, the Spanish champions had five players nominated, including, Lucy Bronze, Fridolina Rölfo, Alexia Putellas, Aitana Bonmatí and Oshoala.

Putellas won last year’s award and was the hot favourite to secure back-to-back Ballon d’Or’s before she tore her ACL in the build-up to Euro 2022. 


Elsewhere, new signing Robert Lewandowski has been nominated in the men’s category, having scored 50 goals for Bayern Munich last season. 

Aside from Putellas, the club’s previous winners of the Ballon d’Or award have been Luis Suárez (1966), Johan Cruyff (1973 and 1974), Hristo Stoichkov (1994), Rivaldo (1999), Ronaldinho (2005) and Lionel Messi (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015 and 2019). 

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