FIFA Women’s World CupIn March 2011, Canada won the right to host the seventh edition of FIFA Women’s World Cup, which is now just 63 days away. The kick-off in the first match between hosts Canada and People’s Republic of China will take place on June 6, 2015 at Commonwealth Stadium, Edmonton. For the first time in women’s World Cup, there will be 24 participants, 8 more than the previous tournament in Germany and 12 more than when it first started in 1991 in China. This shows the enhanced level of participation as well as the higher standards across all age groups. Just as the men’s World Cup, the FIFA Women’s World Cup is also the biggest single-sports event played by women. When it first began in in 1991, there were 45 qualifiers and for the 2015 World Cup that number jumped to 128. Germany’s 2011 World Cup was won by Japan and they became the first team from outside Europe and North America to achieve the feat. Victories in last six World Cups have been shared by Germany and USA on two occasions each while Norway and Japan have won the Cup once each.

On 16 November 1991, Guangzhou’s Tianhe Stadium seated 65,000 fans for the first ever match at a FIFA Women’s World Cup, in which hosts China beat Norway 4-0. However, Norway kept that defeat beyond them to reach the final, while China bowed out in quarter-finals. USA beat Norway 2-1 to win the inaugural Women’s World Cup. Norway did better in the 1995 World Cup at Sweden to take the trophy by beating Germany. In 1999, USA took their second World Cup but the event became more famous for American defender Brandi Chastain’s victory celebration after scoring the Cup-winning penalty-kick against China. Chastain took off her shirt to wave it over her head just as men would do and shockingly revealed her sports bra in front of over 90,000 people at Rose Bowl, Pasadena in California. It was USA, who hosted the 2003 Women’s World Cup once again but finished third with Germany taking their first trophy. China hosted the women’s World Cup for the second time in 2007 and Germans emerged victorious yet again. This tournament was known for US captain Kristine Lilly, who competed in her fifth World Cup to become the first woman ever and one of the three players in history to make five appearances in football World Cups. The 2011 World Cup was staged in Germany, where Japan won for the first time. In 1991, Brazilian referee Claudia Vasconcelos became the first woman ever to officiate in a FIFA competition, when she oversaw the match for third-place between Sweden and Germany. In 2015 Canada World Cup, there will be 78 female referees officiating in different matches.

The format of women’s Canada World Cup 2015 is similar to the men’s competition as 24 teams have been split into 6 Groups of four teams each and they play Group Stage games to begin with. Each team will play three matches in its Group. Group A has Canada, China, Netherlands and New Zealand; Group B consists of Norway, Thailand, Germany and Ivory Coast; Group C has Cameroon, Equador, Japan and Switzerland; Group D has Sweden, Nigeria, USA Australia; Group E has Spain, Costa Rica, Brazil and Korea and Group F consists of France, England, Colombia and Mexico. The two teams finishing first and second in each group and the four best teams among those ranked third qualify for the round of 16. The four best teams among those ranked third will be determined by the criteria based on; a) greater number of points obtained in all group matches; b) goal difference resulting from all group matches; c) greater number of goals scored in all group matches; or d) drawing of lots by the FIFA Organizing Committee. In knock-out stage, teams play one another in single-elimination matches, beginning with the round of 16 with extra time and penalty shootouts to decide the winner if necessary. The R16 will be followed by quarter-finals, semi-finals, the third-place match and the final on July 5, 2015 at BC Place Stadium, Vancouver.

The tournament will use Hawk-Eye system as Goal-Line technology for the first time in a women’s World Cup. Canadian cities of Vancouver, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Montreal and Moncton will be the 6 tournament venues. A few days ago, France was awarded the hosting rights for the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019. Korea had also made their bid but in the end, France emerged as hosts for the next Women’s World Cup. England, France, Korea Republic, New Zealand and South Africa were the initial bidders but the field had narrowed down to France and Korea by October 2014.