The absolute pinnacle of ‘The Beautiful Game’ as we know it. The climax. The most unbelievable tournament that plays with football fans’ emotions around the world. The FIFA World Cup. Whilst the 2022 Qatar World Cup was the deification of Lionel Messi as Argentina lifted their 3rd World Cup trophy, 2023 is a World Cup year for professional women’s football around the world.
The 9th edition of the FIFA Women’s World Cup will be hosted by two countries for the first time in the history of the tournament. Australia and New Zealand will co-host the tournament, with the New Zealand women’s national side playing the opening game on the 20th of July against Norway.
Another historical feat for the upcoming Women’s World Cup is that it will be a 32 team tournament for the first time. Born as a 12 team tournament in 1991, it has since expanded to 16 countries in 1999, 24 sides in 2015 and now a complete 32 country format. This newfound expansion further promotes the publicity of women’s football worldwide, with countries such as Ireland, Morocco, Portugal and Zambia competing in the event for their first time.
The month long tournament will span from the 20th of July until the 20th of August and has football fans excited for what could be a ground-breaking tournament for many nations.
Financial Expansion of the Women’s World Cup
In terms of the disparity between women’s and men’s football financially, FIFA have attempted to level the playing field in this upcoming Women’s World Cup. FIFA have greatly increased the prize money for the 2023 Women’s World Cup from a measly $30 million in 2019, to $110 million this July in Australia and New Zealand. Whilst this is a step in the right direction for FIFA’s financial priorities to further promote women’s football, there is still work to be done. Even with this 300% increase the Women’s World Cup prize money is still one third of the men’s allocated money, which is approximately $440 million.
Whilst some argue that the difference in revenue generated justifies the economic gap between men and women’s football FIFA have made their egalitarian intentions clear. FIFA President Gianni Infantino has claimed the organization’s “ambition” is to have full parity between the men’s and women’s prize money for the 2026 and 2027 World Cups. The current prize money does not only go to players, with the $150 million going to teams, team preparation and payments to club benefits as reported by ESPN.
In addition to the added prize money, Infantino has also encouraged broadcasters to pay more for the rights to air the 2023 Women’s World Cup. If FIFA’s sincere and genuine intentions are to economically and financially support professional women’s football, then footballers can be encouraged by Infantino’s statement that “women deserve much, much more than [the $110 million] and we are there to fight for them and with them”.
The Women’s World Cup’s Recent History
Historically, the U.S. Women’s National Team have dominated the competition, winning it 4 times. Germany have won the World Cup twice, and Japan and Norway have each won it once. These four teams have competed in every single Women’s World Cup and are the top four in terms of total points acquired from all games played. Scoring hasn’t been a problem for the USWNT, with the side scoring 138 goals in 50 games, nearly 3 goals per match!
The 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup held in France saw the continued supremacy of the United States in professional women’s football, with the USWNT winning their second consecutive World Cup trophy. The 8th edition of the tournament saw the U.S Women’s National Team concede only 3 goals in 7 games, with the side scoring 26 times. A highlight for the USWNT was their 13-0 group stage victory against Thailand, which saw Alex Morgan score 5 goals on the night. Former captains of the national side, Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan, would go on to win the tournament’s golden boot award with 6 goals each. The former would also win the player of the tournament award, converting 3 penalties and scoring 5 knockout stage goals for the USWNT.
The hosts of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup did not have very successful campaigns in France. Whilst Australian superstar Sam Kerr scored 5 goals in the tournament, the Matildas were knocked out in the Round of 16 to Norway. The Football Ferns were even less successful, losing all 3 games in the group stage and scoring only once.
However, it is not all doom and gloom for the Australian and New Zealand national sides. Historically, the hosts of the Women’s World Cup have never been knocked out of the group stage and have always made it as far as the quarter finals. The Football Ferns will be delighted with this statistic, but could struggle to maintain it as they’ve never won a single match despite competing in the tournament 5 times. But, with World Cup debutants the Philippines in their group, the Kiwis could potentially snatch their first victory. The Matildas will be more optimistic heading into their 8th FIFA Women’s World Cup and will look to make it past the quarter-finals for their very first time.
With the exciting prospect of a World Cup tournament on the horizon, let’s take a look at the favorites to win the most esteemed trophy in world football!
The United States Women’s National Team will look to solidify their name in the history books and become a squad that is talked about for years to come. Another World Cup triumph would see the USWNT lift the trophy for a third consecutive time, which is already more total trophies than any other women’s national side. A fifth World Cup trophy would be monumental for the US Women’s National side, but it won’t come as easy as it has in previous years.
Legendary coach Jill Ellis stepped down from her role in the USWNT, and was replaced by coach Vlatko Andonovski in October of 2019. It will be a tough task to replicate Ellis’s success with the side, given that in her stint as coach from 2014-2019, the USWNT finished every single year as the top ranked women’s national side on FIFA’s world rankings.
However, Andonovski brings his side into the tournament looking as strong as ever. The USWNT won the 2022 CONCACAF Women’s championships for the 9th time in Mexico. The national team scored 13 goals in the whole tournament and conceded 0, with Alex Morgan being named player of the tournament. Since this triumph in July, the USWNT have kept 5 clean sheets in 11 games and only lost 3 times.
Coming into the 9th edition of the FIFA Women’s World Cup, the United States will rely on 33 year-old Alex Morgan, who despite her age placed second in the Best FIFA Women’s Player award in 2022. Also, they will look to benefit from Malory Swanson’s red-hot form. The Chicago Red Stars winger has scored 7 goals in her last 5 appearances for the USWNT.
After a historic 2022, the England women’s national side will look to win their first ever FIFA World Cup. The Lionesses will hope to ‘bring football back home’ after winning their first ever UEFA Women’s Euro tournament just last year. The national side has not lost a game since the 13th of April 2021 when they lost a friendly against Canada. More astonishingly, in competitive matches the Lionesses have not lost since the 11th of March 2020!
2022 was a year to remember for English women’s football, and the national team will hope to follow suit with a strong campaign in Australia and New Zealand. Finishing the year in 4th in the FIFA World Rankings, the Lionesses also took home some awards in The Best FIFA Football Awards ceremony. Manager Sarina Wiegman and goal-keeper Mary Earps won awards in their respective positions for what was a brilliant calendar year.
In the upcoming World Cup, the Lionesses will look no further than Arsenal number 9 Beth Mead. Her brilliant run in the Euros saw her finish the tournament as the top goal scorer and win the player of the tournament award. Already this season, the 27 year old has 10 goal contributions in 9 games for the Gunners, and will be a menacing force to deal with in Australia and New Zealand.
Along with England’s Lionesses, the Brazil women’s national side will compete for their first World Cup triumph after a marvelous 2022. Continuing their reign of terror in women’s South American football, the ‘Selecao’ won their 4th consecutive Copa America Femenina. Incredibly, the Brazilian national side have won this tournament 8 out of 9 times and the only time they did not win it they came second overall in the tournament.
The 2022 edition of the Copa America Femenina saw the ‘Selecao’ score 20 goals whilst conceding 0. This outstanding effort saw their Swedish manager Pia Sundhage nominated for The Best FIFA Women’s Coach.
Since their Copa America triumph, the Brazilian women’s side have won 2 out of their 4 games. Despite losing twice in the SheBelieves Cup to Canada and USA, the ‘Selecao’ finished 2022 in 9th placed in the FIFA Rankings. Don’t count them out though as their star-studded side and could wreak some havoc come July.
The current 7th ranked side in FIFA’s World Rankings will look to have their revenge on multiple nations in the 2023 FIFA World Cup. In the previous Women’s World Cup, the Spanish women’s national side were knocked out in the round of 16 to eventual winners USA.
But, since 2019 the emergence of star Alexia Putellas has elevated Spain’s chances in the upcoming FIFA Women’s World Cup. Since the 2019/20 season, Barcelona’s number 11 has scored 62 goals and provided 15 assists in 102 games. All from central midfield! These ridiculous numbers saw her win the Ballon d’Or Feminin in 2021 and 2022, becoming the first professional women’s footballer to win the award twice.
On the 1st of July 2022, Putellas became the first player to 100 caps for ‘La Roja’. But prior to the Euros, the midfielder tore her ACL in her left knee and missed the tournament. Without their star, the Spanish outfit struggled in the Euros, getting knocked out in the quarter-finals to eventual winners England. But prior to the tournament, they had not lost a game since the 8th of March 2020.
Despite a largely underwhelming 2022, ‘La Roja’ cannot be counted out as reigning Ballon d’Or winner Putellas will likely be one of the players of the tournament. The Spanish national team will also look to profit from Esther Gonzalez’s prolific goal-scoring. Real Madrid’s number 10 has scored 4 goals in the last 4 games for ‘La Roja’, who have won and kept clean sheets in 3 out of 4 games since the Euros.
Perhaps the most steady and consistent side in women’s international football – aside from the US Women’s National Team – the German national side will look to win their first World Cup since 2007. In all-time standings ‘Die Nationalelf’ have acquired 95 points from 44 games and have participated in every FIFA Women’s World Cup. The only team with a better record? The United States.
A rather average 2019 World Cup saw the Germans get knocked out in the quarter-finals to Sweden. Aside from the 2-1 loss in the quarters, the German national side conceded 0 goals and scored 9 in the Round of 16 and the Group Stage. Young fullback Giulia Gwinn also received the young player of the tournament award, scoring a goal and keeping 4 clean sheets in the tournament.
2022 was an up and down year for the Germans. The beginning of the year saw the 3rd ranked side win only 2 out of 6 games. In the Euro’s, ‘Die Nationalelf’ scored 13 goals and conceded 1 until they faced England in the finals. Despite their historical success in the UEFA Women’s Championship, the Germans were defeated by the Lionesses 2-1 in extra time. The post-Euros set of fixtures saw the German national side win 4 out of 6 games, scoring a total of 15 goals in those victories.
‘Die Nationalelf’ will be devastated after a troubling 2022 which will push them harder this July. Their consistency and ability to cause trouble in most tournaments makes them one to watch in Australia and New Zealand.
Who do you think will win? We think an all-time classic final matchup between the USWNT and the Lionesses will take place in Sydney. Whilst both sides look like solid picks to win the Women’s World Cup, we back the England women’s national side to defeat the US Women’s National Team and end their reign of terror in women’s football.