FIFA Women's World Cup

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FIFA Women's World Cup
Founded 1991
Region International (FIFA)
Number of teams 24 (finals)
Current champions  United States
Most successful team(s)  United States
(3 titles)
Website Official webpage
2015 FIFA Women's World Cup

The FIFA Women's World Cup is an international football competition contested by the senior women's national teams of the members of Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the sport's global governing body. The championship has been awarded every four years since the 1991 inaugural tournament held in China, after the first men's tournament was held 61 years prior. The United States beat Norway 2–1 in the final, to become winners of the first ever FIFA Women's World Cup in 1991. The current title holders are USA after they beat Japan 5-2 to win their third FIFA Women's World Cup in a multiple record breaking final match[1]. The current format of the tournament involves 24 teams competing for the title at venues within the host nation(s) over a period of about three weeks. This phase is often called the World Cup Finals. A qualification phase, which currently takes place over the preceding three years, is used to determine which teams qualify for the tournament together with the host nation(s).

The Women's World Cup is recognized as the most important international competition in women's football and is played amongst women's national football teams of the member states of FIFA. The first Women's World Cup tournament, named the Women's World Championship, was held in 1991, sixty-one years after the men's first FIFA World Cup tournament in 1930. The seven World Cup tournaments have been won by four different national teams.

The most recent World Cup began on June 6, 2015 and concluded on July 5, 2015 with the United States defeating the previous champion, Japan, by a score of 5-2.


In 1988, FIFA hosted an invitational in China as a test to see if a global women's World Cup was feasible. Twelve national teams took part in the competition – four from UEFA, three from AFC, two from CONCACAF and one from CONMEBOL, CAF and OFC. The tournament saw European champion Norway defeat Sweden 1–0 in the final to win the tournament, while Brazil clinched third place by beating the hosts in a penalty shootout. The competition was deemed a success and on 30 June FIFA approved the establishment of an official World Cup, which was was to take place in 1991 again in China.[2]. Again, twelve teams competed, this time culminating in the United States beating Norway in the final 2-1.

Map of countries' best results

In the 1999 edition, one of the most famous moments of the tournament was American defender Brandi Chastain's victory celebration after scoring the Cup-winning penalty kick against China. She took off her jersey and waved it over her head (as men frequently do), showing her muscular torso and sports bra as she celebrated. The 1999 final in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California had an attendance of 90,185, a world record for a women's sporting event.[3]

The 1999 and 2003 Women's World Cups were both held in the United States; in 2003 China was supposed to host it, but the tournament was moved because of SARS.[4] As compensation, China retained its automatic qualification to the 2003 tournament as host nation, and was automatically chosen to host the 2007 FIFA Women's World Cup. Germany hosted the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup, as decided by vote in October 2007. In March 2011, FIFA awarded Canada the right to host the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup. The 2015 edition saw the field expand from 16 to 24 teams.[5]

During the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup, both Formiga of Brazil and Homare Sawa of Japan made a record of appearing in six World Cups,[6] a feat that had never been achieved before by neither female or male players.Christie Rampone is the oldest player to ever play in a Women's World Cup match, at the age of 40 years old.[7]


Final tournament[edit]

The final tournament has featured between twelve and twenty-four national teams competing over about one month in the host nation(s). There are two stages: the group stage followed by the knockout stage.[8]

In the group stage, teams are drawn into groups of four teams each. Each group plays a round-robin tournament, in which each team is scheduled for three matches against other teams in the same group. The last round of matches of each group is scheduled at the same time to preserve fairness among all four teams. The two teams finishing first and second in each group and the four best teams among those ranked third qualify for the round of 16, also called the knockout stage. Points are used to rank the teams within a group. Since 1994, three points have been awarded for a win, one for a draw and none for a loss (before, winners received two points).

The ranking of each team in each group is determined as follows:[8]

  1. Greatest number of points in group matches
  2. Greatest goal difference in group matches
  3. Greatest number of goals scored in group matches
  4. If more than one team remain level after applying the above criteria, their ranking will be determined as follows:
    1. Greatest number of points in head-to-head matches among those teams
    2. Greatest goal difference in head-to-head matches among those teams
    3. Greatest number of goals scored in head-to-head matches among those teams
  5. If any of the teams above remain level after applying the above criteria, their ranking will be determined by the drawing of lots

The knockout stage is a single-elimination tournament in which teams play each other in one-off matches, with extra time and penalty shootouts used to decide the winner if necessary. It begins with the round of 16. This is followed by the quarter-finals, semi-finals, the third-place match (contested by the losing semi-finalists), and the final.[8]


Year Host Champions Score Runners-up Third Place Score Fourth Place Teams
1991   China
United States

1995   Sweden

United States
China PR
1999   United States
United States
0–0 a.e.t.
(5–4 pen)

China PR

0–0 [A]
(5–4 pen)

2003   United States
2–1 asdet

United States
2007   China

United States
2011   Germany
2–2 a.e.t.
(3–1 pen)

United States

2015   Canada
United States

1–0 a.e.t.
2019   France 24

A No extra time was played.[9]

All-time performance[edit]

# Team Titles Runners-up Third-place Fourth-place
1  United States 3 (1991, 1999, 2015) 1 (2011) 3 (1995, 2003, 2007)
2  Germany 2 (2003, 2007) 1 (1995) 2 (1991, 2015)
3  Norway 1 (1995) 1 (1991) 2 (1999, 2007)
4  Japan 1 (2011) 1 (2015)
5  Sweden 1 (2003) 2 (1991, 2011)
6  Brazil 1 (2007) 1 (1999)
7  China PR 1 (1999) 1 (1995)
8  England 1 (2015)
9  Canada 1 (2003)
 France 1 (2011)


At the end of each World Cup, awards are presented to the players and teams for accomplishments other than their final team positions in the tournament. There are currently five awards:

  • The Golden Ball for the best player, determined by a vote of media members (first awarded in 1982); the Silver Ball and the Bronze Ball are awarded to the players finishing second and third in the voting respectively
  • The Golden Boot (also known as the Golden Shoe) for the top goalscorer. The Silver Boot and the Bronze Boot have been awarded to the second and third top goalscorers respectively.
  • The Golden Glove Award for the best goalkeeper, decided by the FIFA Technical Study Group
  • The FIFA Fair Play Award for the team with the best record of fair play, according to the points system and criteria established by the FIFA Fair Play Committee.
  • The Most Entertaining Team Award for the team that has entertained the public the most during the World Cup, determined by a poll of the general public (first awarded in 2003)

An All-Star Team consisting of the best players of the tournament has also been announced for each tournament since 1999.

Records and statistics[edit]

Top scorers of all time[edit]

Marta of Brazil is the all-time leading scorer of the World Cup.
Birgit Prinz is tied for the second most goals in all tournaments, and won the title twice representing Germany.
Rank Name World Cup Total
United States
United States
1 Brazil Marta 3 7 4 1 15
2 Germany Birgit Prinz 1 1 7 5 0 14
United States Abby Wambach 3 6 4 1 14
4 United States Michelle Akers 10 0 2 12
5 China Sun Wen 1 2 7 1 11
Germany Bettina Wiegmann 3 3 3 2 11
7 Norway Ann Kristin Aarønes 6 4 10
Germany Heidi Mohr 7 3 10
9 Norway Linda Medalen 6 2 1 9
Norway Hege Riise 1 5 3 0 9
Canada Christine Sinclair 3 3 1 2 9
12 Germany Kerstin Garefrekes 4 2 2 8
United States Mia Hamm 2 2 2 2 8
United States Kristine Lilly 0 3 2 2 1 8
China Liu Ailing 4 1 3 8
Norway Marianne Pettersen 3 3 2 8
Germany Célia Šašić 2 6 8
Japan Homare Sawa 0 0 3 0 5 0 8
19 Brazil Cristiane 0 5 2 0 7
Australia Lisa De Vanna 4 1 2 7
United States Carli Lloyd 0 1 6 7
United States Tiffeny Milbrett 3 3 1 7
Brazil Sissi 0 7 7
Formiga and Homare Sawa are the only players to appear in six Women's World Cup editions.

Most tournaments appeared (players)[edit]

# Player Appearances
1 Brazil Formiga 6 (1995, 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011, 2015)
Japan Homare Sawa 6 (1995, 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011, 2015)
3 United States Kristine Lilly 5 (1991, 1995, 1999, 2003, 2007)
Norway Bente Nordby 5 (1991*, 1995, 1999, 2003, 2007)
Germany Birgit Prinz 5 (1995, 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011)
Canada Karina LeBlanc 5 (1999*, 2003, 2007*, 2011, 2015*)
Germany Nadine Angerer 5 (1999*, 2003*, 2007, 2011, 2015)
United States Christie Rampone 5 (1999, 2003, 2007, 2011, 2015)

*Did not play but was part of the squad.

Most matches played (players)[edit]

# Player Matches
1 United States Kristine Lilly 30
2 United States Abby Wambach 25
3 Brazil Formiga 24
United States Julie Foudy 24
Germany Birgit Prinz 24
Japan Homare Sawa 24
7 United States Joy Fawcett 23
United States Mia Hamm 23
9 Norway Bente Nordby 22
Norway Hege Riise 22
Germany Bettina Wiegmann 22

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "FIFA Women's World Cup Canada 2015™ - Matches - USA-Japan -". Retrieved July 6, 2015. 
  2. ^ FIFA KOs Greece. El Mundo Deportivo, 01/07/88
  3. ^ "Women's World Cup History". The Sports Network. Retrieved March 25, 2007. 
  4. ^ Koppel, Naomi (2003-05-03). "FIFA moves Women's World Cup from China because of SARS". USA Today. Retrieved 2007-03-27. 
  5. ^ Molinaro, John F. (March 3, 2011). "Canada gets 2015 Women's World Cup of soccer". CBC Sports. Retrieved May 9, 2011. 
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ a b c "Regulations FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015" (PDF). Fédération Internationale de Football Association. Retrieved 12 June 2015. 
  9. ^ "Brazil takes third". SI/CNN. 10 July 1999. Retrieved 2 July 2011. 

External links[edit]