The ninth edition of the FIFA Women’s World Cup is commencing in Auckland, with 32 teams competing in 64 matches across 10 venues in Australia and New Zealand. The tournament, held from July 20 to August 20, is the largest to date. The US Women’s National Team (USWNT) arrives as the two-time defending champion and is the favorite to win an unprecedented third consecutive title and a record-extending fifth overall.
This year’s World Cup is hosted in the Southern Hemisphere for the first time, with games taking place in six stadiums in Australia and four in New Zealand. The final will be held in Sydney’s 81,500-capacity Stadium Australia. The tournament has seen record ticket sales, making it likely to be the most attended standalone women’s sporting event in history.
Viewers worldwide can watch the matches through various broadcasters, including FOX Sports and Telemundo in the US, Seven Network and Optus Sport in Australia, and BBC and ITV in the United Kingdom.
The competition features 32 teams, including debutants Haiti, Morocco, Panama, the Philippines, Portugal, the Republic of Ireland, Vietnam, and Zambia. The US is considered the favorite to win the tournament, but the competition is expected to be closer this year, with teams like Sweden, Germany, France, England, Spain, and Australia closely trailing.
Several players will be closely watched during the tournament. Australia’s Sam Kerr, captain of the Matildas, carries the expectations of her nation as a star forward with 62 goals. Brazilian legend Marta and USWNT’s Megan Rapinoe have announced their retirements after this World Cup. Young talents like Trinity Rodman, Sophia Smith, and Alyssa Thompson from the US team are eager to make an impression during their debuts. Other notable players to watch include Alexia Putellas (Spain), Keira Walsh (England), Asisat Oshoala (Nigeria), Ada Hegerberg (Norway), Caroline Graham Hansen (Norway), Wendie Renard (France), Pernille Harder (Denmark), and Alexandra Popp (Germany).
Some players, unfortunately, will miss the tournament due to ACL injuries, including Vivianne Miedema (Netherlands), Leah Williamson (England), Beth Mead (England), Cat Macario (USWNT), Giulia Gwinn (Germany), Iman Beney (Switzerland), Becky Sauerbrunn (USWNT), and Mallory Swanson (USWNT).
FIFA has increased the prize money for the tournament to $110 million, a significant increase from previous editions, but still lower than the men’s World Cup. FIFA’s president, Gianni Infantino, expressed his hope for equal prize money in future World Cups.
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