The FIFA Women’s World Cup is an international football competition between women national teams. It is the women’s version of the FIFA World Cup. The competition has been held every four years since China hosted the inaugural event in 1991. Twenty-four teams participate in the tournament under the current format, where women national teams compete for 23 slots while host nation is awarded an automatic slot. The finals take place in the host country over one month.
World Cup Wins by Country
The FIFA Women’s World Cup has taken place eight times in six countries:
- The United States (2)
- China (2)
- Sweden (1)
- Germany (1)
- Canada (1)
- France (1)
The United States has won three events, Germany has won twice, while Norway and Japan have both lifted the trophy once. The Women’s World Cup is greatly overshadowed by the Men’s World Cup. The 2019 FIFA women’s World Cup was held in France between June 7 and July 7. Twenty four teams competed in 52 matches played across nine cities.
History of the Women’s World Cup
Although the inaugural Men’s World Cup was held in 1930, several countries restricted women from participating in football activities. In the 1970s, governments began lifting the ban, and women were allowed to play football. The first international women’s event was held in 1975 in Asia to promote the sport. The popularity of women’s football was put to the test when FIFA invited 12 teams from across the world to participate in a tournament in China.
An average of 20,000 people attended each of the matches, and the competition was deemed a success. FIFA went ahead to approve the first World Cup that was hosted by China in 1991 featuring 12 teams. The United States won the tournament after beating Norway in the finals. In 1995, Sweden hosted the World Cup where Norway defeated Germany to secure the title. In the 1999 competition, the number of teams was increased to 16, and the host United States beat China in a penalty shootout to win the title for the second time. China was set to host the tournament in 2003, but a SARS outbreak prompted the world governing body to move the competition to the United States while China was nominated to host the event in 2007. Germany and Canada hosted the 2011 and 2015 World Cups, respectively. In 2015 the number of finalists was increased from 16 to 24.
The 24 teams participating in the World Cup qualify from the six FIFA continental zones (Europe, Oceania, North and Central America and the Caribbean, Asia, South America, and Africa). The host nation receives an automatic qualification regardless of the continent. The 24 teams are grouped into six groups of four teams. The best two teams from each group and the four best teams from the remaining 12 qualify for the round of 16 (knockout stage). The teams are matched, and the eight victorious qualify for the quarterfinals where four are eliminated while the remaining four qualify for the semi-finals. Two teams qualify for the finals where the winner of the final match is declared the World Cup winner while the loser becomes the runners-up.