The Pandemic delayed Women’s Euros are set to take place this summer and they will be a great indicator of form with the 2023 Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand right around the corner. In our article focusing on the Euros we saw how Germany has been the perennial European power, with the Scandinavian countries also fairing well since the inception of the competition.
The Women’s World Cup is actually a younger competition than the Euros and the event next summer will be only the ninth edition of the tournament. Here is a look at who has taken home the trophy over the years.
What Country Has Won The Most Women’s World Cups? The United States has been the best-performing country overall at the Women’s World Cup. The Americans have won four of the eight Women’s World Cups to date, finished runners-up once, and finished third the other three times.
Never finishing outside of the top three at a Women’s World Cup is quite the achievement and speaks to the level of investment, the number of women who play from a young age, and the general interest in the USA Women’s National Soccer Team. Here is a look at how the tournaments have played out.
1991 – USA
The first Women’s World Cup was a truly global affair. Each of the six FIFA confederations had at least one representative in the 12-team field, with Europe sending five teams to China and Asia having three. This was unlike the first men’s World Cup, albeit in an entirely different era of global travel in 1930, which only had teams from Europe and South America.
The level of competition in the pool stages was not the strongest, but a powerhouse quartet of Germany, Norway, Sweden, and the USA made it through to the semi-finals. The USA went on to beat Norway 2-1 in the final thanks to a pair of goals from Golden Shoe winner Michelle Akers-Stahl.
1995 – Norway
Norway became the first European team to claim a Women’s World Cup in 1995 when they beat Germany in an all-European final in Sweden. This marked Sweden as the first country to have hosted the Women’s and Men’s World Cups as they had previously been the location for the Men’s tournament in 1958.
Norway got their revenge on the USA by beating them 1-0 in the semi-final and went on to defeat Germany 2-0 in the final. It is estimated that one in four Norwegians watched the final on TV and the team plane was escorted back home by two F-16s to a victory celebration.
1999 – USA
This is the Women’s World Cup that most people following the game will either remember or have seen in highlight videos. It was hosted in the USA and the viewing figures were just huge. The games averaged over 37,000 fans and the final at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA, saw over 90,000 fans on-site and almost 40 million watched on TVs in the country at its peak.
Mia Hamm was the star of the tournament, while the final will always be remembered for its penalty shootout. The 0-0 wasn’t that exciting, but the image of Brandi Chastain scoring the winning penalty and her following celebration is one of the most iconic moments in women’s sporting history.
USA hosted back-to-back events as a SARS outbreak early in the year forced the Women’s World Cup to be moved away from original hosts China. Germany was the dominant team in the world at this point and their group stage wins of 4-1 against Canada, 3-0 against Japan, and 6-1 against Argentina showed the form they were in.
That form continued into the knockout stages as they battered Russia 7-1 in the quarters, impressively built a rebuilding USA squad 3-0 in the semis, and then beat Sweden 2-1 in the final thanks to a 98th-minute golden goal from Nia Tsholofelo Kunzer. This made Germany the first country to have won both a woman’s and a men’s World Cup.
Germany became the first country to go back-to-back at the Women’s World Cup as they continued to demonstrate their dominance throughout the noughties in China. They took part in the opening match of the competition where they beat Argentina 11-0, the biggest win in Women’s World Cup history until 2019.
A 0-0 draw with England in the group stages was Germany’s only stumbling block as they beat North Korea 3-0, Norway 3-0, and Brazil 2-0 in the knockout rounds. Germany successfully defended their title without conceding a single goal. The USA finished third at this World Cup as they beat Norway 4-1 in the third-place play-off.
2011 – Japan
The redemption story of Japan to Women’s World Cup winners in 2011 is a fun one. This is not a country that was a power when the World Cup was first played like the USA and the Northern European squads. In 1991 they lost each of their three pool games without scoring a goal and conceding 12. That included an 8-0 drubbing at the hands of the Swedes.
By 2011, however, Japan was a different animal. This World Cup was hosted in Germany and Japan finished second behind England in a group also containing Mexico and New Zealand. Japan then went through a traditional murders row in the knockouts. They beat Germany, Sweden (sweet revenge), and then finally the USA on penalties to win the World Cup as the biggest surprise to date.
2015 – USA
The tournament expanded to 24 teams for the first time here as the teams descended on Canada for the seventh Women’s World Cup. This was the first-ever World Cup, for men or women, where all the matches were played on artificial turf.
The USA won Group D with victories over Australia and Nigeria and a 0-0 draw with Sweden putting them on seven points. A Round of 16 was introduced for the first time and with Sweden and Norway bowing out at that stage this was also the first World Cup with no Scandinavian sides in the quarter-finals. The USA beat defending champions Japan 5-2 in a dominant final where they went 4-0 up after just 16 minutes as Carli Lloyd completed a quickfire hat-trick with an audacious goal from the halfway line.
2019 – USA
The USA became the second nation to defend their World Cup title as they took the crown in France. They also broke Germany’s record for goals in a game in their opening group match as they outclassed an overmatched Thailand squad 13-0 in a game where Alex Morgan scored five times to tie a single-game tournament record with compatriot Michelle Akers.
The USA won their first three knockout stages games by the same 2-1 scoreline, before beating up and coming power the Netherlands 2-0 in the final. Megan Rapinoe scored one of the two goals in the final and was named Golden Ball winner for best overall player to go with her Golden Boot as top scorer.
So the USA will be aiming for a place in the final at Stadium Australia in Sydney and a third Women’s World Cup title in a row in the summer of 2023. They will face new challenges in a format that will be expanded to 32 teams from the 24 that played in the 2019 tournament in France. Comment below and let us know who you think will reign Down Under.