After a truly scintillating summer tournament, Sunday brought FIFA's Women's World Cup™ to a close as Spain were crowned as champions for the first time in their history. It was heartbreak for England as they looked to complete back-to-back major tournament success after their Euro triumph in 2021 however it wasn’t to be as Olga Carmona’s first-half goal was enough to ensure victory for the Spaniards. Team Spain oozed class on the field throughout the competition and showed themselves to be a league above the rest as they inserted their name into history by becoming the fifth nation to earn this prestigious title. Spain has now become the first nation ever to hold all world titles at once as Lo Roja also currently claims the under-17, and under-20 title world championships.
It was a summer of drama, passion and entertainment so let’s sit back and have a look at FIFA's Women's World Cup™2023: As it happened.
The Group Stages
The group stages sparked the flame to what was to be a remarkable tournament. The Germans were sent packing early on after a series of dismal displays, Japan made history by becoming the first nation to win all of their games without conceding a goal and the hosts Australia battled through the doubts to progress without the star-power of their injured captain Sam Kerr. The eventual winners fought off Zambia and Costa Rica to take second place in Group C, behind the unbreakable Japan. Clips of the tournament were continuously trending over social media from Lauren James’ star-studded displays to Marta Cox’s inch perfect free kick for Panama which is a definite early contender for the Puskas award. Accompanied with inevitable VAR drama, the adrenaline was only just beginning to kick in as we made our way to the knock-outs.
The knock-out rounds came around and surprises were plentiful. Tournament favourites and reigning champions USA crashed out in the Round of 16 to Sweden with just millimetres providing the outcome. Furthermore, long-time and noble captain Megan Rapino saw her last ever kick of a ball in professional football blazed over the bar in what wasn’t to be a fairytale ending to a glittering career. A moment of sheer madness from Lauren James meant the contender for Player of the Tournament saw red and consequently missed England’s next two games after a stamp on Nigeria’s Michelle Alozie’s back. The Lionesses continued to battle without their young star as they scraped past Colombia on penalties in the Quarter-Finals before defeating the Matilda’s in a packed-out Semi-Final at Stadium Australia. The script looked like it was well and truly written in English favour again as they reached their second major final in two years. The Spaniards cruised by Switzerland and the Netherlands to set up a Semi-Final match-up against Sweden who proved to be real underdogs in the tournament having eliminated the USA and the impressive Japan. However, Spain proved to be too much of a force to reckon with after last-minute drama saw them claim a place in the final, where England awaited them. Sweden took Bronze in the third-place play-off against Australia capping off a fantastic campaign from the Swedes, but all eyes were on the final.
After what felt like a lifetime of waiting, the final had finally arrived as two giants of the game duelled to earn the greatest title football can offer.
Both teams had fully earned their rights to participate in the final and it really was all to play for. England Women’s manager Sandra Wiegman was certainly given a headache selection as questions were raised as to whether she was going to throw Lauren James straight back into the line-up being fresh from suspension or keep with the on-form Ella Toone- which she ultimately opted for. Spain totally controlled the game and England struggled to get a foot-hold on it and La Roja found themselves ahead in the 29th minute which proved to be the winner. Other than Laren Hemp striking the crossbar, the Lionesses failed to create many clear-cut chances even after a double substitution at half time which saw James and Chloe Kelly introduced. England were lucky to keep the score at 1-0 after a heroic display from goalkeeper Mary Earps which included her saving a penalty mid-way through the second half. As the final whistle blew, jubilee ensued for Spain as England dropped to their knees in defeat. They had given it their all but Spain just proved to be a level above on the day.
The worthy champions went on to collect their winners’ medals and goal scorer and captain Olga Cameron lifted the trophy as the stadium lit up in red to commemorate the champions. Unfortunately, it was revealed that Carmona learnt of the tragic passing of her father just minutes after the game so our thoughts are with the Carmona family at this difficult time.
And just like that, the tournament was concluded. It was incredibly refreshing to see Women’s football get the respect it truly deserves and it certainly looks like the women’s game is on the rise. A record 12 million people tuned into BBC One to watch the final as year by year more and more people are deciding to engage in the women’s game. This is another huge step into inspiring the next generation of women’s footballers and this is only the beginning.
The countdown to Euro 2025 is now on.