Soccer, Football, Futbol, Futebol, Calcio, Fussball, Fu bal, Voetbol…….
Every four years the eyes of the world turn to women’s soccer. Over 13.5 million Americans tuned in to watch the U.S. Women’s National Team fall to Japan in the last World Cup Final. Here’s what you need to know to watch the women in Canada 2015.
What is the women’s World Cup?
The Women’s World Cup has only been around since 1991 and was initially called the Women’s World Championship. The tournament was held in China, featured 12 teams, and the United State defeated Norway in the final. Since that time, the quadrennial tournament has grown to 24 teams and the 2015 Women’s World Cup takes place in Canada.
Opening ceremony and the first game is June 6th with the final on July 5th.
In simplest terms, the FIFA Women’s World Cup is a soccer tournament in which every nation is invited. Sort of.
Although everyone is invited, there are only 24 spots at the table. A team earns their spot by playing a series of games in their nation’s global region. The US, for example, plays in CONCACAF. There are five other regions that cover the globe, and it takes about three years (!!!) for the individual regions to determine (through play) which teams go to the World Cup.
How is the World Cup organized?
The first part of the tournament is called the Group Stage. Every team will play the other teams in the group once. Teams receive three points for a win, one point for a draw, and zero points for a loss. The winners and runners-up from each group, as well as the best four third-placed teams, will qualify for the first round of the knockout stage. FiveThirtyEight has an incredible set of interactive charts predicting how each group will shake out.
The next step is the Knockout Stage. From here on out, the tournament becomes single-game elimination. If games are tied at regulation, two 15-minute halves are played, and if it’s still tied after that, it goes to penalty kicks, which are INCREDIBLY dramatic!
Wasn’t FIFA in the news a bunch recently?
Even the most oblivious sports fan in the world would be hard pressed to ignore the recent hullabaloo that took place in Zurich at the end of May and into early June. In this context, “hullabaloo” means “nine FIFA officials indicted for fraud, racketeering, and corruption.” The FBI/DOJ were the leading force in these indictments.
Shortly after those indictments an election was held and the FIFA congress in an amazing leap of all logic decided that Sepp Blatter—the man who oversaw this corrupt organization for four terms (terms are four years) should run it for a fifth. Blatter held office for a few days before stepping down amid growing international pressure.
John Oliver summed up why FIFA president Sepp Blatter needed to go in this slightly NSFW video.
Doesn’t America suck at soccer?
Nope. The USWNT (United States Women’s National Team) is consistently at the top of the FIFA rankings and enters this tournament in second place just behind Germany. The women have finished in the top four in every Women’s World Cup so far. They’ve won it twice, second place once, and third place three times. That’s a record envied by all, although it is worth noting that both Germany and Sweden can also boast of continuous top four finishes but only one Cup each.
What does “Group D” look like?
In every World Cup a group receives the ominous label of “Group of Death” due to rankings of all the teams and overall skill level. This year that title falls onto Group D and although the USWNT are favored to take the group it wouldn’t be surprising if they end up in 2nd.
United States of America
- Nickname: The Yanks or Lady Yanks
- Current Ranking: 2nd
- Best Finish: Winners in 1991, 1999, and Runner-up in 2011
- Who/what to watch: Abby Wambach at age 35 is most likely in her last World Cup, and winning it is one of the few accomplishments that has eluded her—expect her to play like a woman on a mission. Abby is backed by other veterans, Carli Lloyd, Hope Solo, prolific forwards Alex Morgan, Sydney Leroux, and Christen Press. One of the young guns, Morgan Brian has a semi-local connection in that she played for University of Virginia in college from 2011-14. It’s also worth noting that Sweden is led by longtime U.S. coach Pia Sundhage.
- Nickname: Matildas
- Current Ranking: 10th
- Best Finish: Quarter-finals finished 7th in 2007
- Who/What to watch: Although this is a veteran team, they come out of the very weak Oceania Football Confederation. In qualifying, they were able to post some truly lopsided scores including most recently a 11-0 drubbing of Vietnam but then losing to Austria and drawing with Scotland just a month earlier. Injuries could also play a role, as striker Kyah Simon missed the entire 2013-14 season and goalkeeper Lydia Williams is recovering from an ACL injury.
- Nickname: Blågult (The Blue and Yellow)
- Current Ranking: 5th
- Best Finish: 2nd place in 2003
- Who/What to watch: Sweden represents the biggest threat to the USWNT goal of finishing top of the group. Lotta Schelin is the top goalscorer in the history (for both men and women) of Sweden with 80 goals and is a threat that can’t be ignored.
- Nickname: Super Falcons
- Current Ranking: 33rd
- Best Finish: Quarter-finals finished 8th in 1999
- Who/What to watch: Nigeria have long dominated nearly every African competition and have been in every Women’s World Cup since the beginning, but tend to struggle mightily on the world stage. Striker Desire Oparanozie, aged 21, is one person to keep an eye on, but a bigger threat lies in Asisat Oshoala. Asisat played last year in the Under-20’s version of the World Cup, and won both the golden boot (most goals in the tournament) and best player of the tournament awards.
Sounds awesome! Where should I watch games?
FOX Sports is televising all 52 games live from six cities across Canada between June 6th and July 5th, live on FOX; FOX Sports 1, America’s fastest growing sports network; and FOX Sports 2. Digitally, all games are available on tablets and mobile devices via the FOX Sports GO app and online at www.FOXSportsGO.com.
But if you really want to experience the glory that is World Cup soccer–the chanting, clapping, and cheering–here are a few places to check out:
This is the official viewing spot for the American Outlaws Richmond Chapter, local supporters of the US team. Needless to say, this place will fill up fast, so make sure you get there way early, and be ready to get cozy with strangers.
- 2701 W. Broad Street
They’ve been hosting World Cup match gatherings since the 1970s. It’s a great place to watch the US, England, and every other country play.
- 421 E. Franklin Street
One of the most authentically Irish pubs in the city, Rosie Connolly’s is also a great spot for lovers of the Emerald Isle.
- 1548 E. Main Street
Here are some other places to check out
- Baja Bean • 1520 W. Main Street
- Hometeam Bar & Grille • 1630 W. Main Street
- Rare Olde Times Public House • 10602 Patterson Avenue
Image: Suzanne Huffman Velasco