The forthcoming FIFA Women’s World Cup will be held in Australia and New Zealand this July and August, with the U.S. going into the tournament as defending champions having won the previous two editions in 2015 and 2019.
The popularity of the women’s game is booming in many countries across the world. There will be great excitement and huge television audiences are expected to tune in when co-hosts New Zealand face a talented Norway team in the opening match at Eden Park, in Auckland on July 20th.
Exactly one month later on August 20th Sydney’s Olympic Stadium in Australia will host the final, the culmination of 64 games in a festival of international soccer featuring 32 teams.
Host venues across Australia and New Zealand
In addition to Eden Park in Auckland and the Olympic Stadium in Sydney, the other host venues are Sydney’s Football Stadium, Brisbane’s Lang Park, Melbourne’s Rectangular Stadium, Perth’s Rectangular Stadium and Adelaide’s Hindmarsh Stadium in Australia and Wellington’s Regional Stadium, Dunedin’s Forsyth Barr Stadium and Hamilton’s Waikato Stadium in New Zealand.
This will officially be the ninth edition of the competition, with the first ever FIFA Women’s World Cup having been held in 1991 in China and subsequent editions taking place in Sweden (1995), the United States (1999 & 2003), China again (2007), Germany (2011), Canada (2015) and France (2019).
Previously, unofficial Women’s World Cups were held in the 1970s and ‘80s in Mexico and Italy, though sadly women’s football was in fact banned in several countries for many years.
The history of the Women’s World Cup
The FIFA Women’s Invitation Tournament held in 1988 in China was a successful event and led to the establishment of the first ever FIFA Women’s World Cup being hosted by the Chinese three years later, with the United States winning the inaugural title thanks to two goals from Michelle Akers in a 2-1 final victory over Norway.
In total the U.S. have four FIFA Women’s World Cups, with the other former winners being Germany, who have won it twice, and Japan and Norway whose women have previously secured one title each. The U.S. start their title defense at this year’s competition on July 22nd against Vietnam at Eden Park.
The full official name for the tournament is the FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023. National team coaches have until 9th July to name their final squads of 23 players, which will comprise 20 outfield players and three goalkeepers in each case.
32 teams in eight groups
The teams 32 participating teams have been drawn into the following eight groups, with the winner and runner-up in each group progressing to the Round of 16:
Group A: New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Switzerland
Group B: Australia, Republic of Ireland, Nigeria, Canada
Group C: Spain, Costa Rica, Zambia, Japan
Group D: England, Haiti, Denmark, China
Group E: United States, Vietnam, Netherlands, Portugal
Group F: France, Jamaica, Brazil, Panama
Group G: Sweden, South Africa, Italy, Argentina
Group H: Germany, Morocco, Colombia, South Korea
The U.S. are the favorites to be outright winners with the bookmakers, as defending champions and with a strong roster available to Vlatko Andonovski. England’s Lionesses go into the World Cup as European Champions and are second favorites for the title. Spain, Germany and France are also expected to pose a major threat to the U.S. team’s efforts to make it an historic three in a row.