Who the data shows will win the World Cup
19.07.2023 - 10:08
With the FIFA Women's World Cup kicking off, we looked at the data to see how teams have fared in previous tournaments, which strikers are in form for the Golden Boot and what the players are playing for this year.
Written by Hayley Winchcombe, Associate at Mandala. Data visualisations by UX designer Jenny Vuu and Mandala's Hayley Winchcombe, cover design by Sonny He.
The FIFA Women's World Cup 2023 will kick off with Australia playing Ireland in front of a sell out 80,000+ crowd at Stadium Australia.
This will be the largest Women’s World Cup to-date. 32 teams will compete in 64 matches over one month before the final on 20 August.
So who are the hot favourites to win this year’s world cup?
Our top picks are Australia (we might be biased), the US, Germany, England, Spain and France who all look set to be hot contenders this year.
Many of these teams performed particularly well in the 2019 World Cup, and will capitalise on a breadth of talented players who have been playing professionally across either the European leagues or American league.
Here's how teams have fared in previous world cups:
The US has dominated much of the history of the Women's World Cup. Based on goals scored in past world cups, they'll be the team to beat this tournament with an average of 17 goals scored per world cup, but Germany is not far behind on 15 goals per tournament.
The US is not unbeatable though. In October last year, Spain beat the US 2-0 with goals from Laia Codina and Esther Gonzalez. Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas, 29, is also set to dazzle this tournament as she returns after an ACL injury ruled her out of last year's Euros.
The German team is in fine form. They were runner up European Champions last year, and their captain Alexandra Popp (32) was the equal top scorer of the tournament with 6 goals.
Last year’s European Champions England’s Lionesses are facing worse luck. A string of ACL injuries have ruled out captain Leah Williamson and top strikers Fran Kirby and Beth Mead.
While still boasting Women’s Super League Golden Boot winner Rachel Daly (31), Euros Goal of the Tournament winner Alexia Russo (24), the world’s best goalkeeper Mary Earps (30) and lightning fast striker Lauren James (21), things will be tough for the team.
The Netherlands’ goal scoring machine Vivianne Miedema and French superstar Marie-Antoinette Katoto are also out due to ACL injuries.
Of the top strikers still in the game, Australia’s Sam Kerr is one of the standouts.
With Sam Kerr at the helm, Australia has the host advantage and a team in impeccable form. Their April 2-0 win against England ended the Lionesses’ 30-match unbeaten run.
Kerr will be supported by Vice Captain and Arsenal player Steph Catley (29), Olympique Lyonnais defender Ellie Carpenter (23), and attackers Caitlin Foord (28) and Hayley Raso (28), who this week made history for being the first Australian to sign with Real Madrid. Raso has averaged a goal every other game for Australia since the start of 2022.
As fellow hosts, New Zealand also might top their group, but they will face stiff competition from Norway. Sweden is also a team that will be hungry for victory, after finishing four times in the top three without ever being champion.
Eight teams will make their debut this year: Haiti, Morocco, Panama, Philippines, Portugal, Republic of Ireland, Vietnam, Zambia.
For these teams, getting to the World Cup will make a world of difference. Every player at the World Cup will be paid at least $AU45,000 by FIFA, more than double the average salary of paid female players last year (Optus 2023).
Vietnam - with its large diaspora in Australia - will be a fan favourite. And the presence of Morocco has warmed hearts and inspired generations in our big cities.
Unlike the Men’s World Cups, Asian countries have long been at the fore of the Women’s game.
China hosted the first ever Women’s World Cup in 1991 and again in 2007. Japan became the first Asian team to win a World Cup in 2011. At the last World Cup, more fans in Asia tuned in to watch than anywhere else in the world, representing almost four in ten viewers (Forbes 2019).
The Women’s World Cup 2023 will be a key highlight for Asian fans, with many more Asian Football Confederation teams qualifying for the Women's Cup than in the Men’s, and several teams making their debut.
What are teams playing for this year?
To change the way women’s football is seen. If you haven't seen that advertisement by French phone company Orange then close this article and watch it now.
To advocate for LGBTI+ rights. OG 'out' trail blazer Megan Rapinoe will return again to this tournament. Another prominent advocate is Denmark goal scorer Pernille Harder, who will be playing in the country’s return to the World Cup after 16 years.
To advocate for human rights. The Brazil team touched down to Australia in a plane emblazoned with ‘No woman should be forced to cover her head' and 'No man should be hanged for saying this'. The words were accompanied by black and white images of Iranian woman Mahsa Amini, who died in custody in September after being arrested for wearing a hijab too loosely, and Amir Nasr Azadani, an Iranian footballer who was arrested during the protests and sentenced to 26 years in prison.
To advocate for equal pay and playing conditions. For much of history, women have been ‘systematically and ideologically’ excluded within most sport cultures globally. Australia's Matilda's called for equal pay in a campaign launched just before the tournament.
Progress on pay for female players is improving. The Women’s prize money in 2023 has increased by 270% but is still one quarter of what the men got in Qatar 2022.
It does seem crazy how high the prize money for the men's game is, given that individual player salaries are already so high. In fact, just three players - Ronaldo (£173m pa), Benzema (£172m pa) and Mbappe (£100m pa) - together make more (US$577m) than the men's prize money in a year.
Over the past 8 years, the women’s prize pool has increased by $96m in total. But the men’s prize pool has increased by almost the same amount, at $82m, so work remains to be done to reach parity.
Pay can be equal for sports with brilliant results for players. Just look at tennis, where the US Open has paid equal prize money since 1973. They are now celebrating 50 years of equal prize money.
In heartening news, FIFA president Gianni Infantino is targeting equal prize money for the men's and women's World Cups of 2026 and 2027. But is relying on broadcasters and sponsors to step up.
On this front, spectators are booming. 2 billion fans are expected to tune in to matches this year. And similar to the attendance at previous world cups, over 1.4 million tickets have been sold to matches.
Popular culture is sweeping up women’s football, from Matilda’s branded fashion accessories, the release of the film Marinette based on Marinette Pichon in France on the 7 June, and Leah Williamson’s book covering England’s ban on women’s football from 1921-1971.
The book covers the history of women's football in the UK, which grew significantly during the 1910s and 1920s, attracting thousands of spectators and raising thousands of pounds for charity.
The Football Association (FA) banned women's football for 50 years from 1921-1971, over concerns about control of the money being raised (often for charity) and the fact that they were competing with men's football. The ban had a significant impact on the development of women's football in the UK, halting the progress that had been made and preventing women from playing the sport at a professional level.
Over 50 years since England’s ban was lifted, this FIFA Women’s World Cup, there is so much to look out for.
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