a passage to 32 teams, symbol of the evolution of the discipline

For the first time in the history of the competition, 32 selections will compete in the World Cup, from July 20 to August 20, in Australia and New Zealand.

This is one of the big changes for this 2023 edition. In Australia and New Zealand, for the ninth Women’s World Cup in history, 32 countries will compete for the final victory and the trophy. The arrival of eight additional teams follows and demonstrates the progression of the discipline around the world.

With 32 nations on the starting line for the first time, the women’s tournament ushers in a new era. Initiated by Fifa on the sidelines of the last World Cup in France, the change was adopted immediately after by the Board of Directors, at the end of July 2019, three weeks after the final. It had been justified “to feed” AND “to encourage” the development of women’s football: “The resounding success of this year’s Women’s World Cup in France demonstrated the importance of riding this wave and taking concrete steps to foster the growth of the discipline”assured Gianni Infantino, president of Fifa at the time.

Eight novices out of 32 qualified

In concrete terms, the transition to 32 teams does not change the format of the competition much. Two groups are added to the group stage, to go from six to eight. Introduced in 2015, the Round of 16 it will now pit the top two in each pool cross-over, as in the men’s tournament, instead of fielding the third-placed. In total, twelve more games will be played than in 2019.

“I think it’s a great thing, because there are more and more good teams that play well”explains Charlotte Lorgeré, Nantes player, former international and adviser to France Télévisions. “This is mainly what Fifa has been waiting to see, if the game continues to develop and if the level of all the teams comes close, and it does.” “It is revealing that women’s football is developing and progressing around the world”Laëtitia Philippe, former keeper of the Blu and consultant for France Télévisions, abounds.

In 2023, eight teams from all continents (Portugal, Ireland, Morocco, Zambia, Philippines, Haiti, Vietnam, Panama), evolving between 21st and 77th place in the FIFA rankings, will discover the World Cup, or a quarter of the qualifiers. There will be at least one debutant team in seven of the eight groups. For three of them (Zambia, the Philippines and Vietnam) it will even be the first World Cup in the history of the country, men and women.

New nations “coming to power”

Qualified from the play-offs but also from continental competitions that are also on the rise, they have already impressed some debutants, such as Zambia, semi-finalists of the last African Cup of Nations and author of solid preparation, completed by a victory in Germany (3-2). This allows us to see countries that are gaining momentum, that are putting money into their national team.”explains Laëtitia Philippe.

In 2019, however, the announcement had provoked reactions in terms of future qualifications, after a World Cup during which the United States had significantly defeated (13-0) Thailand, which was playing the second World Cup in its history, and had not qualified in 2023. “There are rookie teams that have little chance of progressing through the groups, but promise very important matches right from the final stage”assures Charlotte Lorgeré.

With eight nations and twelve games more than the French edition, the expansion and enthusiasm can also have economic consequences. At the beginning of June, the president of Fifa, Gianni Infantino, announced that ticket sales had exceeded the symbolic threshold of one million (1,032,884), to become the women’s sport event with the most attendance in the world. National attendance records for women’s football matches are also expected to be broken from the earliest days in the two host countries.

Add a Comment