1. The 7th FIFA 2015 Women’s World Cup begins in Canada today, and ends on July 5. 24 teams, 52 matches, 6 cities, WOOHOO!
2. One billion viewers are expected to tune into their TV sets for the Cup, and the tournament is expected to be broadcast in over 180 territories. But guess what? India isn’t one of them – fans here will have to settle for streaming the matches online. Boo to you, StarSports, Sony, NEO and TEN! (TEN even has a channel called TEN Action dedicated solely to football!)
3. Four countries have hosted the Women’s World Cup so far: Germany, Sweden, China and the USA (the last two countries have hosted the Cup twice each). China was also the first country to host the Cup in 1991.
4. Given the recent controversy about corruption at FIFA, the Canadian Soccer Association president was asked if Canada paid bribes to win the right to host the Cup. “Absolutely not”, was his reply. Zimbabwe (whose women’s team has never qualified for a World Cup) originally also bid to host the Cup this year, but later dropped out.
5. The number of teams participating has doubled since the first FIFA Women’s World Cup was held fourteen years ago. In 1991 and 1995, 12 teams participated, and in 1999, this number was raised to 16. This is the first year that 24 teams will take part.
6. There are eight newcomers this year: Cameroon, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Ecuador, Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland and Thailand.
7. Brazil, Japan, Sweden, USA, Norway, Germany and Nigeria have participated in all six World Cups till date.
8. Teams are divided among six groups, and at the group stage, will be awarded three points for a win and one point for a draw. Winners, runners-up and the top four teams in third place will move on to the next stage: the knockouts.
9. Sixteen teams will compete in four rounds of knockouts. After the first round, only 8 teams will move on to the quarterfinals, after which half of them will be knocked out. The rest move on to the semi finals, and the winners will play in the finals. In all of these knockout matches, a draw at the end of 90 minutes will mean 30 minutes of extra time, and if there still isn’t a decisive victory, then a penalty shootout to declare a winner.
10. The final match will be held in Vancouver on July 5. Tickets for it cost between 50 and 165 Canadian dollars (around Rs 2,500-Rs 8,500). For the FIFA 2014 Men’s World Cup, tickets for the final match in Brazil ranged from 440-990 USD for international visitors (around Rs 28,000-Rs 63,000).
11. Li Ma of China scored the first-ever goal in a Women’s World Cup. The match, played in Guangzhou in November 1991, was against Norway.
12. USA’s scored a cumulative 98 goals in the World Cups since 1991, the highest of any country. Michelle Akers, a USA player, holds the record for most goals scored in a single tournament: 10 in 1991. The same year, Lena Videkull of Sweden scored the fastest Women’s World Cup goal in a match against Japan in just 30 seconds.
13. Brazil’s Marta and Germany’s Birgit Prinz hold records for scoring the most World Cup goals in total: 14. But while Prinz has retired, 29-year-old Marta, dubbed “Pelé with a skirt” (puke) by the man himself, will be at this year’s World Cup. Look out for a new record! And read more about one of Brazil’s greatest soccer players.
14. Abby Wambach, “the best soccer forward in the world”, will retire from football after this World Cup, breaking hearts around the world. This amazing lady has scored more international goals than any player in the world (yes, any player – male or female), and has been a loud voice in the fight against making footballers play on artificial turf (more on this below) and FIFA’s sexism. Now watch the greatest goal scored in Women’s World Cup history.
15. Want to know more about some of the best players in this year’s World Cup? Don’t miss Guardian’s list of 10 players to watch this tournament, which includes super ladies like Marta, Wambach, Homare Sawa (Japan) and Asisat Oshoala (Nigeria).
16. In 2007, Germany had the biggest win in World Cup history, trouncing Argentina 11-0. That’s the highest number of goals scored in a World Cup match, and the biggest margin by which a team’s won so far.
17. The lowest turnout for a World Cup match came in 1995, when only 250 spectators showed up in June of 1995 for a match between USA and Nigeria held in Sweden. The highest turnout for a World Cup match came four years later in Los Angeles, when in July 1999 over 90,000 people came to watch the matches between USA and China, and Brazil and Norway. In comparison, the highest-attended FIFA Men’s World Cup match in history was in Brazil in 1950: over 1,70,000 spectators squeezed into the Maracaña stadium at Rio de Janeiro.
This is why soccer should be played on grass! pic.twitter.com/fsNGi27oRY
— Sydney Leroux Dwyer (@sydneyleroux) April 15, 2013
18. Canada 2015 will be the first time in history that football world cup matches will be played on artificial turf, which exposes players to more injuries than natural grass does. Having turf was part of Canada’s original bid for the Cup, and although over 60 elite women footballers sued FIFA, they dropped the case earlier this year as FIFA took no action. Installing natural grass would have cost FIFA less than 3 percent of its 2014 Men’s World Cup budget, but even though companies offered to put in natural grass for free, FIFA didn’t budge. Men have never been made to play on artificial turf in a World Cup.
19. For the first time in the Women’s World Cup, there’ll be new tech to monitor whether goals are scored – high-speed cameras will assess whether a ball has crossed the goal line, and special watches worn by match officials will indicate in just one second if there’s been a goal.
20. The 10-minute opening ceremony, which will take place today, will see performances by Sarah MacLachlan and Tegan and Sara. Now what are you waiting for? Go forth and WATCH SOME FOOTBALL!