Developments

Women’s World Cup


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Women’s World Cup, formally FIFA Women’s World Cup, international football (soccer) competition that determines the world champion among women’s national teams.

Like the men’s World Cup, the Women’s World Cup is governed by the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) and takes place every four years. The field for the Women’s World Cup is determined by various international sectional competitions held over the course of several years before the final elimination event. The inaugural tournament, in 1991, was won by the United States. This initial contest and the 1995 iteration of the Women’s World Cup featured 12 international teams in the final tournament. The field expanded to 16 teams in 1999 and to 24 teams in 2015.

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 competition has been held every four years since 1991, when the inaugural tournament, then called the FIFA Women’s World Championship, was held in China.

Under the tournament’s current format, national teams vie for 23 slots in a three-year qualification phase. (The host nation’s team is automatically entered as the 24th slot.) The tournament proper, alternatively called the World Cup Finals, is contested at venues within the host nation(s) over a period of about one month.

The United States may be favourites to retain their Women’s World Cup title but the rapid development of the game globally means they will face a tougher field than ever before when the tournament gets underway in France on Friday.

Hundreds of thousands of tickets have been sold and world governing body FIFA is banking on the women’s game taking a huge step forward on the back of a successful tournament.

Soccer - FIFA Women's World Cup 2015 - Final - USA v Japan - BC Place Stadium

The eighth edition of the Women’s World Cup will be contested by 24 teams in nine cities across France, with the hosts facing South Korea in the opening game at the Parc des Princes in Paris.

As a player, Phil Neville had to get used to the enormous expectation levels surrounding England before every major tournament and they are soaring once again ahead of the Women’s World Cup in France.

In March, Neville’s side beat 2015 World Cup runners-up Japan 3-0 to win the SheBelieves Cup – setting down a marker ahead of their World Cup opener against Scotland in Nice on June 9.

While English optimism has often been of the rose-tinted glasses variety, there is a huge amount of goodwill behind Neville’s Lionesses for whom a semi-final berth will be the immediate target. Then who knows what is possible?

Women’s football has made huge strides in England since they finished third at the 2015 tournament, with many players becoming household names, media exposure on the rise and the game much more visible on television.

With the BBC broadcasting every match of the tournament, Neville knows his side have a gilt-edged opportunity to cement the women’s game in the consciousness of the masses.

Sweden were comfortable winners in their qualifying group ahead of Denmark but, it must be pointed out, helped massively by winning one of their games against their Scandinavian rivals on a walkover. The Danish women’s team could not reach an agreement with their football federation for compensation for representing the country and thus Sweden were awarded a 3-0 win in October 2017.

As it happened, Denmark could still have beaten Sweden to top spot if they had won the last game of the group, between the two teams, but Peter Gerhardsson’s side triumphed 1-0 in Viborg to finish the section five points ahead of the Danes.

Gerhardsson had then hoped to just fine-tune his gameplan before the finals but since then Sweden have struggled in attack and the coach has not been entirely convinced who should lead the line. Stina Blackstenius, who scored three times in qualifying , has returned to Linköping in the Swedish top flight to get herself back to her best, after spending two seasons at Montpellier in France. She scored twice in the opening four games to indicate that she may very well be on the right track.

There are also doubts concerning Hedvig Lindahl, the experienced goalkeeper who has been an international since the early 2000s. The 36-year-old is leaving Chelsea at the end of the season, having spent a large part of the season on the bench, and Sweden hope that her experience will make up for any lack of match fitness. Lindahl, together with Chelsea teammate Magdalena Ericsson, who has been one of Sweden’s best performers over the past year, holds the key to the team’s success.