Wambach is the first American to be voted the world’s best since Mia Hamm won the 2002 women’s award.
The 32-year-old Wambach edged her national team strike partner Alex Morgan and five-time winner Marta of Brazil in the voting.
Wambach received the trophy from teammate Hope Solo at FIFA’s annual ceremony celebrating world football.
She scored five times at the London Games as the U.S. won its third straight Olympic title.
Wambach’s career total of 152 international goals is closing in on Hamm’s world record of 158.
Voting was by national team coaches and captains around the world, and invited media.