The FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 is just around the corner. The ninth edition of the tournament is scheduled to begin on 20 July and will extend till 20 August 2023. Australia and New Zealand are joint hosts of this year’s edition making it the first World Cup to take place across two continental federations, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and the Oceanian Football Confederation (OFC).
The United States Women’s National Team (USWNT) are the most successful team in the history of the competition with four wins and is also the defending champion after securing the trophy in the previous edition held in France in 2019.
Germany has won the event twice whereas Japan and Norway each have one trophy in their cabinet. Here is a quick recap of the previous Women’s World Cup campaigns:
1991 - Host: China
The inaugural edition of the Women’s World Cup was held in the Guangdong province in China in 1991, three years after the region had hosted the FIFA Women’s Invitation Tournament. The event was held over 15 days in six stadiums across four host cities with 12 teams participating.
All the games in the tournament were held for a duration of 80 minutes with two points being awarded to the victor in the league stage. Eight teams qualified for the knockout stages from three groups of four teams each in the group stage.
The United States were the inaugural winners defeating Norway 2-1 in the final in Guangzhou on the back of performances from their famous ‘Triple-Edged Sword’ attack consisting of captain April Heinrichs, Carin Jennings and Michelle Akers-Stahl.
While Akers-Stahl took home the Golden Boot on the back of her 10 tournament goals, Jennings won the Golden Ball. Martina Voss from Germany and Helen Johansson from Sweden headed the assist charts with four each.
1995 - Host: Sweden
The second edition of the Women’s World Cup was held across five cities in Sweden in 1995. The format was similar to the one held four years earlier.
FIFA trialled a two-minute timeout during each half for the first time in this edition. The matches were extended to 90 minutes and three points were awarded for every victory.
Norway defeated Germany 2-0 in the final held at the Rasunda stadium in Solna. The United States finished third after defeating China in the third-place playoff. The eight quarter-finalists also qualified directly for the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games.
Norwegian forward, Ann Kristin Aarønes won the Golden Boot for her six goals while compatriot Hege Riise won the Golden Ball awarded to the best player in the tournament. Mia Hamm of the USWNT was the assist leader with six.
1999 - Host: USA
The Women’s World Cup in 1999 held across eight host cities in the United States of America was the first to have an extended set of 16 teams. The event was a milestone in the history of the sport as all attendance and viewership records were broken.
In the final at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, the hosts defeated China in a penalty shootout after the game finished goalless at the end of extra time to win their second World Cup.
The image of defender Brandi Chastain removing her jersey and celebrating after scoring the winning penalty is one of the most iconic photos in history. The audience that the event managed to gather in the States led to the formation of a new professional league soon after.
The third-place playoff was won by Brazil after defeating defending champions Norway on penalties. Sun Wen of China and Sissi of Brazil shared the golden boot with seven goals apiece.
Wen was also adjudged the player of the tournament and awarded the Golden Ball. Irina Grigorieva of Russia and Julie Foudy of the USA led the assist charts with four.
2003 - Host: USA
On account of the spread of the SARS pandemic in Guangdong in China, the hosting rights for the 2003 World Cup were once again shifted to the United States.
The fourth edition of the tournament saw a new winner, with Germany beating Sweden after Nia Kuzner’s golden goal. The final at Home Depot Centre had finished 1-1 after normal time. Germany achieved the record of being the first country to win the Men’s and Women’s World Cup.
The hosts and defending champions USA secured third place with a 3-1 win over neighbours Canada. German striker Birgit Prinz won both the Golden Ball and the Golden Boot after scoring seven and assisting five.
Fellow German Maren Meinert led the assist records with seven in the tournament.
2007 - Host: China
The rights to host the 2007 edition of the Women’s World Cup automatically went to China after their misfortune four years ago.
The tournament opened with an 11-0 thrashing of Argentina by defending champions Germany at Shanghai. The golden goal rule and extra time were both done away with in this edition of the tournament.
Germany became the first team to retain the cup beating Brazil 2-0 in the final at the Hongkou Football Stadium in Shanghai after two second-half goals from Birgit Prinz and Simone Laudehr.
The champions and their keeper Nadine Angerer went the entire tournament without conceding a goal.
The United States defeated Norway 4-1 in the third-place playoff and continued its record of not finishing outside the top three in all editions till then.
Marta finished as the top goal-scorer of the tournament and won the Golden Ball for best player after returning seven goals and five assists. Four players led the assists table with 3 assists each.
2011 - Host: Germany
The defending champions turned hosts for the sixth edition of the World Cup in 2011. The tournament was held across nine host cities with the final taking place in Commerzbank Arena in Frankfurt.
The whole world celebrated as Japan became the fourth new winner of the cup defeating the USA on penalties, a year after an earthquake had devastated the country.
Saki Kumagai scored the winning penalty in a 3-1 win after the game had finished 2-2 at the end of extra time. Sweden beat France 2-1 at the Rhein-Neckar-Arena in Sinsheim to secure third place.
Japan midfielder Homare Sawa won the Golden Boot and the Golden Ball for registering five goals and one assist. Her teammate, Aya Miyama registered the most assists with four.
2015 - Host: Canada
The 2015 World Cup hosted by Canada was the first to have 24 participating teams. The tournament was the first to incorporate goal-line technology and also held the record of the edition with the most number of goals – 146.
The United States cemented their third World Cup win with a 5-2 win over Japan in Vancouver. Carli Lloyd scored a hat-trick in the final en route winning the Golden Ball for Player of the Tournament.
England pipped Germany to third place, winning 1-0 after extra-time thanks to a 108th-minute Fara Williams penalty.
Celia Sasic won the Golden Boot with five goals while teammate Lena Goessling led the assist leaderboard with four.
2019 - Host: France
The eighth edition of the FIFA Women’s World Cup was held across nine cities in France in 2019. This edition used the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system for the first time.
The USA began their tournament with a 13-0 humbling of Thailand on the way to retaining the trophy after defeating the Netherlands in the final at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais stadium thanks to goals from Megan Rapinoe and Ross Lavelle. Sweden beat England 2-1 in the third-place playoff at the Allianz Riviera in Nice.
Rapinoe took home the Golden Boot and the Golden Ball awards with six goals and three assists in the tournament. Sherida Spitse from the Netherlands led the assist charts with four.
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