The 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup was the eighth edition of the FIFA Women's World Cup, the quadrennial international football championship contested by 24 women's national teams representing member associations of FIFA. It took place between 7 June and 7 July 2019, with 52 matches staged in nine cities in France, which was awarded the right to host the event in March 2015, the first time the country hosted the tournament. The tournament was the first Women's World Cup to use the video assistant referee (VAR) system.
The United States entered the competition as defending champions after winning the 2015 edition in Canada and successfully defended their title with a 2–0 victory over the Netherlands in the final. In doing so, they secured their record fourth title and became the second nation, after Germany, to have successfully retained the title.
On 6 March 2014, FIFA announced that bidding had begun for the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup. Member associations interested in hosting the tournament had to submit a declaration of interest by 15 April 2014, and provide the complete set of bidding documents by 31 October 2014. As a principle, FIFA preferred the 2019 Women's World Cup and the 2018 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup to be hosted by the same member association, but reserved the right to award the hosting of the events separately.
Initially, five countries indicated interest in hosting the events: England, France, South Korea, New Zealand and South Africa. Both England and New Zealand registered expressions of interest by the April 2014 deadline, but in June 2014 it was announced that each would no longer proceed. South Africa registered an expression of interest by the April 2014 deadline; but later decided to withdraw prior to the final October deadline. Both Japan and Sweden had also expressed interest in bidding for the 2019 tournament, but Japan chose to focus on the 2019 Rugby World Cup and the 2020 Summer Olympics, whilst Sweden decided to focus on European U-17 competitions instead. France and South Korea made official bids for hosting the tournament by submitting their documents by 31 October 2014.
On 19 March 2015, France officially won the bid to host the Women's World Cup and the U-20 Women's World Cup. The decision came after a vote by the FIFA Executive Committee. Upon the selection, France became the third European nation to host the Women's World Cup (following Sweden and Germany), and the fourth country to host both men's and women's World Cup, having hosted the men's tournament in 1938 and 1998.
The slot allocation was approved by the FIFA Council on 13–14 October 2016. The slots for each confederation are unchanged from those of the previous tournament except the slot for the hosts has been moved from CONCACAF (Canada) to UEFA (France).
On 3 December 2018, FIFA announced the list of 27 referees and 48 assistant referees for the tournament. On 4 June 2019, FIFA announced that Canadian referee Carol Anne Chenard and Chinese assistant referee Yongmei Cui had pulled out for "health reasons."
The 24 teams were allocated to four pots based on the FIFA Women's World Rankings released on 7 December 2018, with hosts France automatically placed in Pot 1 and position A1 in the draw. Teams from Pot 1 were drawn first and assigned to Position 1. This was followed by Pot 2, Pot 3, and finally Pot 4, with each of these teams also drawn to one of the positions 2–4 within their group. No group could contain more than one team from each confederation apart from UEFA, which have nine teams, where three groups had to contain two UEFA teams.
Each team had to provide to FIFA a preliminary squad of between 23 and 50 players by 26 April 2019, which was not to be published. From the preliminary squad, each team had to name a final squad of 23 players (three of whom must be goalkeepers) by 24 May 2019. Players in the final squad could be replaced by a player from the preliminary squad due to serious injury or illness up to 24 hours prior to kickoff of the team's first match.
In the knockout stage, if a match was level at the end of 90 minutes of normal playing time, extra time was played (two periods of 15 minutes each), where each team was allowed to make a fourth substitution. If the score was still level after extra time, the winners were determined by a penalty shoot-out.
The following awards were given at the conclusion of the tournament. The Golden Ball (best overall player), Golden Boot (top scorer) and Golden Glove (best goalkeeper) awards were sponsored by Adidas, while the Goal of the Tournament was sponsored by Hyundai Motor Company. FIFA.com shortlisted ten goals for users to vote on as the tournaments' best, with the poll closing on 17 July 2019.
The emblem and slogan were launched on 19 September 2017 at the Musée de l'Homme in Paris. The emblem mimics the shape of the World Cup trophy and features a stylised football surrounded by eight decorative shards of light, symbolising the eighth edition of the Women’s World Cup. It alludes to several French cultural icons:
FIFA and the local organising committee sold tickets for the Women's World Cup beginning with a pre-sale of individual tickets in December 2018, single-city ticket packages in late 2018, and single-ticket sales for the general public beginning on 7 March 2019. The online platform, hosted by AP2S, permitted fans to print their tickets beginning on 20 May 2019, which included seating assignments that had separated ticketholders who had purchased their tickets as a group or family. FIFA responded to online complaints by referring to a warning in the online system that had reminded purchasers that its tickets would not be guaranteed in the same areas, inciting further outrage, but allowed families with underage children to have adjacent seating.
The official mascot, "ettie", was unveiled on 12 May 2018 at the TF1 Group headquarters, and was broadcast on LCI. She made her first public appearance in Paris in front of the iconic Eiffel Tower. FIFA describe her as "a young chicken with a passion for life and football" and state that "she comes from a long line of feathered mascots, and is the daughter of Footix, the Official Mascot of the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France".
The World Cup was used by UEFA to qualify three teams for the 2020 Summer Olympic women's football tournament in Japan, with the three European teams with the best results (considering only the round they reach) qualifying. If teams in contention for Olympic spots were eliminated in the same round, a maximum of four teams (determined by group stage results if necessary) would advance to play-offs in early 2020 to decide the remaining spot(s). However, this scenario did not happen for this tournament.
For the first time, as per the agreement between the four British football associations (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales) for the women's team, Great Britain would attempt to qualify for the Olympics through England's performance in the World Cup (a procedure already successfully employed by Team GB in field hockey and rugby sevens), which they succeeded as England were among the three best European teams.Scotland also qualified for the World Cup but, under the agreement whereby the highest ranked home nation was nominated to compete for the purposes of Olympic qualification, their performance would not be taken into account. In effect, therefore, eight European teams competed for three qualification places during the World Cup.
The United States' win over France in the quarter-finals guaranteed that the three remaining semi-finalists, all from UEFA, qualified for the Olympics.
The final's scheduling on 7 July led to a degree of criticism among supporters of women's football, as two continental men's tournament finals were held on the same day—the Copa América in Rio de Janeiro and the CONCACAF Gold Cup in Chicago.CONCACAF president Victor Montagliani described the scheduling as "a mistake", but claimed the error could not be reversed for logistical reasons. The lack of outdoor advertising across Paris, except for the Parc des Princes stadium and the temporary World Cup museum at Châtelet, was also criticised.
The Women's World Cup was the first major competition to use the updated Laws of the Game approved by the International Football Association Board (IFAB), which came into effect on 1 June 2019. Among the changes, the more severe punishment of goalkeeper encroachment during penalty kicks—including retakes after a video assistant referee review—gained the most attention and caused several successful saves to be disallowed in the group stage. The use of the Women's World Cup as a "guinea pig" for the new changes to the rules was also criticised by some footballers and coaches for being potentially sexist, as several concurrent men's continental competitions had not implemented them.Pierluigi Collina, head of referees for FIFA, denied the claim, stating that it had long been customary for rule changes to be introduced in June, before major tournaments. Following widespread criticism and a request from FIFA, the IFAB issued a temporary dispensation to waive the requirement to show goalkeepers a yellow card for stepping off the line during a penalty shootout during the knockout stage of the Women's World Cup.
The round of 16 fixture between England and Cameroon was marred by misbehaviour of some Cameroonian players, who refused to kick off for several minutes after the second English goal, deliberately fouled several players, and argued with the referee while huddling around her. Cameroonian defender Augustine Ejangue was also seen on camera spitting at English winger Toni Duggan after conceding an indirect free kick in the penalty area, from which England later scored. After the match, England manager Phil Neville said it "didn't feel like football" and that he was "completely and utterly ashamed of the opposition". The Confederation of African Football (CAF) condemned some of the players' actions, while also criticising the refereeing. Cameroon felt three crucial decisions were unjust, two of which involved the video assistant referee (VAR). FIFA announced that it would investigate the match.