The 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup™ was a spectacle. There was fantastic play throughout, and the competition was filled with enthralling action from the opening kickoff through the final whistle.
A goal struck inside the far post in the 29th minute by Olga Carmona was the last goal of the enthralling tournament. That was all Spain needed to defeat England, 1-0, in the final on Sunday and secure its first world title.
The run the champions made was historic for many reasons. It was the furthest Spain had been in the tournament after first qualifying in 2015. It failed to emerge from the group stage that year, and in 2019, the team fell to France in the Round of 16. The triumph over England made Spain the second country to have won both a men’s and women’s FIFA World Cup™, joining Germany.
It was an absolutely dominant performance by La Roja, led by the play of Aitana Bonmati, who took home the competition’s Golden Ball as its top player. She excelled with three goals and two assists. Youngster Salma Paralluelo won the FIFA Best Young Player Award after her stunning performance. The 19-year-old pulled off heroics, scoring as a substitute in both the quarterfinal and semifinal.
The side led the tournament in goals with 18 and won every match it played except one, a loss in the group stage against Golden Boot winner Hinata Miyazawa (five goals) and Japan.
One of the top storylines was the parity throughout the competition. Teams made a massive statement about the state of the women’s game and the shrinking talent gap. It wasn’t a competition dominated by the typical powers. Germany, Canada and Brazil didn’t make it out of the group stages, while the Round of 16 featured unforgettable underdogs Morocco, Jamaica and South Africa.
Host Australia had a great showing on its home soil, reaching the semifinal for the first time and coming away with a fourth-place finish. Matildas youngsters Kyra Cooney-Cross and Mary Fowler filled big boots with their performances in front of the home supporters.
Sweden was the one giant that made it to the semifinals and took home its fourth third-place medal after defeating Australia, 2-0, on Saturday.
Spain wasn’t the only country to taste success. England reached the final for the first time ever. The Lionesses marched on even without a few of their stars. Youngsters Lauren James and Alessia Russo stepped up in big ways. The team saw great success because of their play and the standout saves of Mary Earps, who took home the Golden Glove as the top goalkeeper.
It wasn’t the run anyone expected or hoped to see from the U.S. Women’ National Team, which missed out on a three-peat after falling to Sweden in a Round of 16 shootout. It was the first time that the United States didn’t reach the tournament’s semifinal. The result brought an end to the storied careers of Megan Rapinoe and Julie Ertz. On the bright side, there is promise for the USA with the emergence of Alyssa Thompson, Sophia Smith and Trinity Rodman, among others.
While the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023™ signified the end of an era for more icons (Brazil’s Marta, France’s Eugénie Le Sommer and Canada’s Christine Sinclair), the rising stars proved that the game is on its way to new heights. The next generation emerged, and it features Japan’s Aoba Fujino, France’s Vicki Bècho, Esmee Brugts of the Netherlands and Colombia’s Linda Caicedo.
The lively FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023™ only upped the anticipation for what the game will look like on the road to the next finals four years down the line.