- Norway victorious at Sweden 1995
- Hege Riise claims Golden Ball, Ann Kristin Aarones takes Golden Boot
- Second Women's World Cup presents innovations
If China in 1991 was the innovation, Sweden in 1995 was the consecration of women's football at the highest level.
Players from the best dozen teams in the world came together in the quest for two prizes: the FIFA Women's World Cup™ itself, and also qualification for the first women's Olympic Football Tournament the following year in the United States. The Americans, as Olympic hosts, had already qualified and were eventually joined by new world champions Norway, runners-up Germany and fourth-placed China, together with Sweden, Denmark, Brazil and Japan.
Sweden '95 was a delightful combination of world championship prestige and provincial carnival, with the 26 matches played not only in the Rasunda national stadium near Stockholm but also in the smaller towns of Gävle, Helsingborg, Karlstad and Västeras, amid a typically Swedish festive mid-summer atmosphere. Teams mixed with the public in an easy-going mood, and most seemed to have their own band of supporters, including even those far from home such as China, Japan and Australia.
Sweden, long-time pioneers of the women's game, carefully chose its venues for the second edition of the FIFA Women's World Cup. Mid-sized population centres were picked to maximise impact, and 14,500 spectators at the opening match got the attendance figures off to a good start. Two weeks later, the Final crowd took the total past the 112,000 mark.
Free-scoring Norway impress
The tournament opened with a shock, as Brazil downed host Sweden 1-0 with a goal by Roseli. The Brazilians could not maintain the pace, and dropped their next two matches to go out of the tournament. Sweden rallied emotionally in front of the home crowd for a dramatic 3-2 comeback win over Germany, as Pia Sundhage and Malin Andersson scored the tying and winning goals in the last 10 minutes. Sweden then cruised by Japan to advance to the quarter-finals.
Despite the loss to Sweden, Germany advanced with wins over Japan and a 6-1 thrashing of Brazil, getting two goals from Heidi Mohr. Japan also advanced, based on its win over Brazil, but was quickly put out by USA in the quarter-finals, 4-0.
China gained a measure of historic revenge in the quarter-finals. After being eliminated in their home country in 1991 by Sweden, China knocked the hosts out of the tournament on penalty kicks. Germany cruised past England 3-0 to earn a berth in the semi-finals. By 1995, Norway had nursed its wounds from the finals four years earlier, and made the short journey to Sweden for the tournament ready to roll.
Norway ripped through its three Group B opponents - Nigeria, England and Canada - scoring 17 goals and allowing none to establish itself as the elimination-round favourite. They then dispatched the always tough Danes in the quarter-finals, 3-1. That set up the match that the Norwegians had been waiting four years for - a rematch with USA.
USA's unexpected adventure
The Americans travelled to Sweden as favourites but lost star striker Michelle Akers to injury just seven minutes into their first game, a 3-3 draw in which China scored twice in a five-minute spell near the end of the match. USA rallied in their second group game to defeat Denmark 2-0, a game in which superstar Mia Hamm had a spell between the sticks after goalkeeper Brianna Scurry was sent off.
Against Australia, the Americans fell behind but rallied to score four times in the second half, with two goals coming in stoppage time, including Debbie Keller's dramatic maiden international goal to clinch the group. The quarter-finals saw a convincing 4-0 victory over Japan as Kristine Lilly scored twice.
Defences dominated for USA and Norway during their semi-final match, where a lone 10th minute goal by Norway's Ann Kristin Aarones proved to be the difference. That pushed the Norwegians into the Final where they would face a German squad, which had dispatched China 1-0 with a goal by Bettina Wiegmann in the other semi-final match. In front of more than 17,000 fans who sat through steady rain, Norway scored goals from Hege Riise and Marianne Pettersen to beat Germany 2-0 and capture the second Women's World Cup title.
FIFA experimented with the time-out concept for the first time at this Women's World Cup. The provisional rule allowed each team to call one two-minute break per half, but only about one in three such breaks were actually taken.
The rule was tightened in mid-tournament to enable a team to call a time-out only when it was itself due to take a throw-in or goal-kick, or after a goal has been scored. Referees frequently used the interruption to consult with their linesmen, while coaches adjusted their tactics and players took welcome refreshment in the occasional Swedish heat.
There were 14 women and 11 men among match officials, with Sweden's Ingrid Jonsson becoming the first woman to referee a FIFA final. Forty-two yellow cards in the first 18 matches showed that the officials continued to apply FIFA's call for stricter refereeing in all 26 games, plus one yellow/red - which, ironically, kept Norwegian captain Heidi Store out of the Final.
Brazil, Canada, USA, England, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Nigeria, China PR, Japan, Australia.
Solna, Gävle, Helsingborg, Karlstad, Västeras.
99 (3.8 goals per game)
112,213 (4,316 average per match)
adidas Golden Ball: Hege Riise (Norway)
adidas Silver Ball: Gro Espeseth (Sweden)
adidas Bronze Ball: Ann Kristin Aarones (Norway)
adidas Golden Boot: Ann Kristin Aarones (Norway), 6 goals
adidas Silver Boot: Hege Riise (Norway), 5 goals
adidas Bronze Boot: Shi Guihong (China), 3 goals, 2 assists
FIFA Fair Play award: Sweden