How The FIFA Women’s World Cup Made History This Year
Having been established in 1991, the FIFA Women’s World Cup has recently witnessed a surge in popularity. Here’s a look at some facts and figures from the 2023 tournament, which has left a lasting mark through a series of historic firsts.
In its ninth iteration, the FIFA Women’s World Cup shared co-hosting duties for the first time between two federations: Australia and New Zealand. To reflect the union and joint effort of the nations, the 2023 tournament’s official match ball was called OCEAUNZ.
The 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup welcomed an expansion in teams, with eight nations making their inaugural appearance. Haiti, Morocco, Panama, the Philippines, Portugal, the Republic of Ireland, Vietnam, and Zambia all made their debut this year.
The 2023 prize pot for the tournament surged by 267% to $110 million, marking a more than three-fold increase from 2019 and seven times more than in 2015. At least half of the prize money is earmarked for the players rather than their federation. By comparison, the men’s World Cup had a prize pool of $440 million in 2022. FIFA aims to achieve pay parity by 2027.
For the first time this year, all players who qualified for the group stages received individual payments of $30,000 directly from FIFA, with the amount doubled for those who made it to the knockout stages. The players in the championship-winning team clinched $270,000 each.
First Arab team
Morocco etched its name into history as the first Arab and North African women’s team to participate in a Women’s World Cup and also the first to secure a win. The Atlas Lionesses lost their opening match against Germany but celebrated victory against South Korea and Colombia. The team was the only debutantes to make it to the last 16, where they were knocked out by France. This a remarkable feat, considering only three of the 17 teams that have made their Women’s World Cup debuts this century have reached the knockout stage.
Moroccan footballer Nouhaila Benzina made history as the first-ever player to wear a hijab in a game in the history of the World Cup. Benzina plays professional club soccer for the Association’s Sports of Forces Armed Royal— the eight-time defending champion in Morocco’s top women’s league.
First Palestinian referee
Heba Saadieh became the first-ever Palestinian to officiate a match in the World Cup. The 34-year-old moved to Sweden at 26 and pursued her career as a licensed FIFA referee in Europe.
When Morocco, Nigeria, and South Africa won their entries to the knockout round of the tournament, they made history as the first time ever three African teams progressed to the last 16. The only other there was more than one was in 2019, when Cameroon and Nigeria reached the knockout stage.
After 48 matches, over 1.2 million fans had attended the 2023 tournament—a 29% increase from France 2019.
FIFA has surpassed digital traffic for the entirety of the 2019 tournament in just 14 days, welcoming 22 million unique users throughout the group stage. On average, 2.4 million users were engaging with FIFA Women’s World Cup channels daily.
First Separate Commercial Broadcasting
Breaking convention, FIFA independently commercialized the broadcasting rights for the Women’s World Cup. Previously, FIFA bundled the sale of media rights and sponsorships for the men’s World Cup along with the Women’s World Cup.