In just a few short days, the world will be watching to see which country will take home the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup trophy. With the first official match just a little over a week away, the excitement only continues to build as FIFA prepares to kick off its ninth installment of the tournament. The returning World Champions, Team USA, are sure to come out onto the pitch fighting for the opportunity to secure their third World Cup title in a row. In anticipation for first kick-off on July 20th, we look back at the history of the tournament and the evolution of the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
How it Started
The first official FIFA-sponsored Women’s World Cup took place in China in 1991 – 61 years after the first FIFA Men’s World Cup. Despite the rich history of women playing soccer as far back as the early 1800’s, FIFA (the Fédération Internationale de Football Association) was hesitant to place its already established and highly regarded name brand on a tournament that, in their eyes, had the potential to be a failure. This reluctance on FIFA’s part, however, didn’t stop women athletes from competing internationally. In fact, the women-led Federation of Independent European Female Football (FIEFF) hosted its own unofficial world cup in 1970 in Italy – over 20 years prior to the inaugural FIFA Women’s World Cup tournament. Leagues similar to that of the FIEFF continued to host unofficial invitational tournaments until 1986, when Ellen Wille, a FIFA delegate from Norway, became the first woman to address a FIFA Congress at its 45th annual gathering in Mexico. In her address, Wille urged FIFA to encourage and promote the development of women’s soccer.
Two years later, FIFA hosted a women’s invitational tournament comprised of 12 teams with the goal of examining the commercial viability of women’s soccer on an international stage. Despite initial doubts about whether or not the women’s game would be ready for its own World Cup, the invitational turned out to be a success, with such a level of interest and attendance that FIFA announced the launch of the FIFA Women’s World Cup only 18 days later.
The 1991 inaugural FIFA Women’s World Cup in China had an attendance of over half a million fans from all over the world – a number that has only increased through the years, with a record-setting 1.35 million fans reported to have attended the last Women’s World Cup in 2015. Given this, it’s safe to say that we can expect a high level of viewership and fan attendance for this World Cup, this time taking place in Australia and New Zealand. With the steady increase in interest for international soccer here in the U.S. and the historical achievements of our women’s international squad, expect this year’s tournament to be a thrilling and no doubt captivating few weeks throughout the country and the world.
No matter which country’s team you’re rooting for, let’s give a big cheer of encouragement for all of the incredible women playing in the tournament this year and all of the extraordinary women throughout history that paved the way for this 9th installment of the FIFA Women’s World Cup! This tournament truly is a tribute to the evolution of the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
How to Watch
The FIFA Women’s World Cup begins on Thursday, July 20th and can be streamed domestically in the U.S. on Fox, Peacock, NBC, and Telemundo.
If you’d like to watch Team U.S.A. with Team McEntee Law Group and our special co-hosts, the Chicago Red Stars, we invite you to join us at our watch party on Wednesday, July 26th from 7:00 – 10:00PM at 2112 Chicago. By attending, you will have the chance to win tickets to the “World Cup Welcome Back” game on September 17th! For more information and to RSVP to the event, please click HERE or visit our website, mcenteelaw.com, for details.
De Guzman, Chad. “How the Women’S World Cup Evolved Into What It Is Today.” The History of the Women’s World Cup, 23 Jun. 2023, time.com/6289539/womens-world-cup-2023-history/. Accessed 11 Jul. 2023.
FIFA (n.d.). FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023. FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023. Retrieved July 11, 2023, from https://www.fifa.com/fifaplus/en/tournaments/womens/womensworldcup/australia-new-zealand2023
FIFA Museum (2015, December 16). A Green and Gold Shirt Steeped in History. A Green and Gold Shirt Steeped in History. Retrieved July 11, 2023, from https://www.fifamuseum.com/en/blog-stories/blog/a-green-and-gold-shirt-steeped-in-history-500107/