The seventh FIFA Women’s World Cup™ began in record-breaking style, with 24 teams lining up for the very first time in the competition’s history, and ended on a similarly momentous note, as USA became the first nation to lift the Trophy three times. Just for good measure, Canada 2015 also yielded an all-time-high of 112 goals, one more than the previous best, set at Germany 2011.
The tournament ended on a suitably spectacular note, as the Stars and Stripes swamped defending champions Japan 5-2. The contest was effectively over by the 16th minute, by which time the Americans had surged into a 4-0 lead, three of those goals coming from the talismanic Carli Lloyd.
It was appropriate that the 32-year-old midfielder should prove USA’s hero. Lloyd missed a penalty in the shoot-out that decided the Germany 2011 Final between the same two sides, which ended with the Nadeshiko celebrating their first world title. She and 13 other members of the USA squad were on duty that fateful night in Frankfurt, a defeat they have now avenged in style.
Awarded the adidas Golden Ball as the tournament’s most outstanding player, Lloyd later described her side’s performance as “historic”, while goalkeeper Hope Solo said it was the greatest moment of her career. The seven-goal encounter was the highest-scoring final in the history of the competition and drew an enthusiastic response from US President Barack Obama, who tweeted his congratulations to the victors: “What a win for Team USA! Great game @CarliLloyd! Your country is so proud of all of you. Come visit the White House with the World Cup soon.”
Despite failing to retain the title, Japan have plenty of reasons to be cheerful. Coach Norio Sasaki seemed to agree, saying that it was a success in itself to reach the Final. Canada 2015 was veteran Japanese midfielder Homare Sawa’s sixth World Cup, a record for the competition, which she now shares with Brazil’s Formiga, who also became the tournament's oldest markswoman.
With her strike against Korea Republic in the group phase, Formiga’s team-mate Marta became the highest all-time scorer in the Women’s World Cup with 15 goals, one more than the great German striker Birgit Prinz. The Brazilians advanced from the group phase as the only side along with Japan to win all their group matches, but exited the competition in the Round of 16, going down 1-0 to Australia.
Third place went to England, their best finish in the competition. The Three Lionesses secured the last place on the podium courtesy of a 1-0 win over Germany, a victory that broke a 20-game winless run against their old foes. England’s ground-breaking run featured a quarter-final defeat of the hosts, who advanced beyond the group phase for only the second time, much to the delight of the more than 1.3 million viewers who followed their progress on TV.
Germany again missed out on a place in the top three, just as they had done on home soil four years earlier, when they fell in the quarter-finals. With the international retirement of legendary goalkeeper Nadine Angerer and coach Silvia Neid to hand over the reins to former international Steffi Jones at the end of 2016, the Germans were left to face a transitional phase.
Judging by the talented youngsters they unveiled in Canada, however, Die Mannschaft would appear to have grounds for viewing any generational handover with optimism. FIFA Fair Play Award winners France were also left to look forward to a bright future. Though dejected to lose on penalties to the Germans in the quarter-finals, with Eugenie le Sommer, Louisa Necib and Camille Abily in their ranks, Les Bleues have plenty of talent to sustain them in the years ahead.
Perfectly encapsulating the tournament slogan 'To a Greater Goal™', the eight debutants (Côte d’Ivoire, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Spain, Thailand, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Cameroon) mostly acquitted themselves well on their first appearances on the big stages, with the Dutch, Swiss and Cameroonians all reaching the Round of 16.
Boasting players of the calibre of Asisat Oshoala, Veronica Boquete and Shirley Cruz, Nigeria, Spain and Costa Rica respectively brought a breath of fresh air to the competition and showed that the women’s game is on the up and up around the world.
Canada’s national motto is A Mari Usque Ad Mare (From Sea To Sea), which is entirely appropriate for a tournament in which games were staged from Moncton in the east all the way to Vancouver in the west and across five time zones in all, a first in the history of the game.
“This World Cup should serve as inspiration to all the Member Associations,” commented Lydia Nsekera, Chairwoman of the Committee for Women’s Football and the FIFA Women’s World Cup, at the tournament’s closing press conference. Nsekera also urged the champions not to rest on their laurels.
Australia, Brazil, Cameroon, Canada, China PR, Colombia, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Ecuador, England, France, Germany, Japan, Korea Republic, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, USA.
Edmonton, Moncton, Montreal, Ottawa, Vancouver, Winnipeg.
146 (an average of 2.8 per match).
adidas Golden Ball: Carli Lloyd (USA)
adidas Silver Ball: Amandine Henry (France)
adidas Bronze Ball: Aya Miyama (Japan)
adidas Golden Boot: Celia Sasic (six goals, one assist)
adidas Silver Boot: Carli Lloyd (six goals, one assist)
adidas Bronze Boot: Anja Mittag (five goals, two assists)
adidas Golden Glove: Hope Solo (USA)
Hyundai Best Young Player: Kadeisha Buchanan (Canada)
FIFA Fair Play Award: France