While the FIFA Women’s World Cup has only been around for 24 years, its growth and development has launched the women’s game on an international scale.
From its humble beginnings in 1991 with only 12 teams participating to now in 2015 with 24 teams participating and attendance sky-rocketing, the women’s game has come a long way. Currently Germany and the US have the record for most FIFA Women’s World Cup wins with two each and the US has the most final appearances with 4. While there is still much room for growth and improvement, the history of the tournament is a testament to the love of the game. In that spirit, we here at World Soccer Shop have comprised a list of all of the FIFA Women’s World Cup Finals, what each of the tournaments entailed, and what made them special.
US 2-1 Norway
Scorers- Akers (20, 78) – Medalen (29)
This was the first FIFA Women’s World Cup ever. After the hosts, Guangdong, China, had hosted a Women’s Invitational in 1998, FIFA decided to finally officially give World Cup Status to the tournament. The tournament took place from November 16-30 with 12 teams from 6 confederations participating. The United States won the final 2-1 in front of 65,000 spectators.
US striker Michelle Akers led the way for the Stars and Stripes as she scored the game winning goal in the dying minutes of the game. She pounced on an errant back pass by Norway’s Tina Svensson and slotted into an empty net. This gave US soccer its first world championship in women’s soccer and wrote the team into history books as the winners of the first ever FIFA Women’s World Cup. Akers also won the Golden Boot with 10 goals and US forward Carin Jennings won the Golden Ball for being the best player of the tournament.
Norway 2-0 Germany
Scorers- Riise (37), Pettersen (40)
The 2nd edition of the FIFA Women’s World Cup was held in Sweden, but the dates of the tournament were changed to the summer (June 5-18) to better parallel the men’s game. This tournament was ground breaking as it was the first time that FIFA piloted a time-out concept in the game of soccer. It allowed for each team to call a 2 minute timeout each half to discuss tactics. The rule was later changed mid tournament to a team could only use a time out if they had possession in the form of a goal kick or a throw in. Not many teams used this advantage.
The final between previous runners up Norway and Germany took place in Solna, Sweden in front of a crowd of 17,158 spectators. Norway stormed through to victory with a 2-0 win over the Germans.
US* 0-0 China PR
The 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup is one of the best edition ever according to most US soccer fans. Hosted in the United States, it was the first time the tournament had been expanded to 16 teams participating. It was a record breaking tournament as it was the first time the hosts won the tournament and the final, which took place in the Rose Bowl, with an official attendance of 90,185, was the most attended women’s sports event in history.
The US won on penalties as all 5 US players scored, while China’s Liu Ying had her attempt saved by US keeper Briana Scurry. This led to one of the most iconic moments in US soccer history as Brandi Chastain ripped her shirt off after scoring the winning penalty to win for her country.
Germany** 2-1 Sweden
Scorers- Meinert (46), Kunzer (98) – Ljungberg (41)
The 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cup had a very auspicious and bizarre start. On May 3rd, 2003, a mere few month away before the scheduled kickoff of the tournament, FIFA announced they were stripping host China PR of the tournament and giving it to the US due to a SARS outbreak in Asia. It was thought that since the US had hosted the tournament only a few years before, hosting it in American again would be the easiest transition. To compensate China PR, FIFA awarded them automatic qualification as host and the promise that the premier women’s tournament would be hosted in China in 2007.
The tournament took place from September 20th to October 12th and the final was played in Carson, California in front of 26,137 spectators. Germany went on to win the final 2-1 for their first ever FIFA Women’s World Cup win. The final was also special as it was the first to ever be decided by Golden Goal.
Germany 2-0 Brazil
Scorers- Prinz (52), Laudehr (86)
This was a year of huge milestones for the women’s game. Held in China, Germany dominated the opening match to beat Argentina 11-0 to record the biggest win in the history of the FIFA Women’s World Cup. Germany continued their dominance as they went through the entire tournament without letting in a single goal, which was also the first time a women’s team had ever accomplished that. Finally, Germany became the first national team to ever defend their title as best in the world.
The final was hosted in Chengdu, China in front of 31,000 spectators and provided for a fantastic finish to the tournament. Tournament top scorer and Brazilian forward, Marta, was effectively shut down in the final as she was limited to only a few short and a saved penalty kick that would have tied the game at the time. German scorer Birgit Prinz also became the first woman to appear in 3 finals.
Japan* 2-2 US
Scorers- Miyama (81), Sawa (117) – Morgan (69), Wambach (104)
The 6th edition of the FIFA Women’s World Cup was held in Germany and was the most widely covered and followed tournament of any of the previous tournaments. The budget for the tournament was 51 million euros and it did not disappoint.
Japan made its first appearance in the Women’s World Cup Final and defeated favorites United States on penalty kicks 3-1. After a hard fought game, with scores tied at 1-1, the game was sent to extra time. Abby Wambach, one of the brightest in the tournament, scored shortly after the restart to give the Americans hope. That hope was silenced in the 117th minutes, just 3 minutes from time, when tournament leading scorer Homare Sawa scored to tie the game and send it to penalty kicks. The US missed all but their last kick, which was scored by none other than Abby Wambach. Center back Saki Kumagai scored the winner for Japan, who won their first ever FIFA Women’s World Cup.
US vs. Japan
This tournament was an historic one for women’s soccer. One of the most exciting developments was that the team pool was expanded from 16 to 24 teams, with 8 teams making their Women’s World Cup debuts. It was also the first time that any World Cup of any kind was played on artificial turf. Hopefully, after seeing the effect on the game, this was also the last time artificial turf will be used in World Cup play.
The final was a fitting end to a great tournament. In the rematch between the 2011 finalists, the US came out victorious, thrashing opponents Japan 5-2. Carli Lloyd registered a hat trick, the first ever in a Women’s World Cup Final, and the US was even up 4-0 within the first 16 minutes. This was the United States’ record 3rd World Cup win. The stars and stripes are on top of the world yet again. We will have to wait another 4 years to see if they can prove it again.
*=Won on penalty kicks
**=Won in Golden Goal