With the 2023 Women’s World Cup wrapped up, here’s our chance to reflect on what happened. This year, there were plenty of teams that exceeded expectations and others that disappointed.
Recapping the tournament
Spain won the Women’s World Cup, much in part to their 19-year-old gem of a footballer, Salma Paralluelo. Whether she was on the bench or starting as a forward, the versatile Paralluelo hasn’t failed to impress. Her movement on the ball is top-class, and she was essential during tough elimination games when Spain struggled. What impressed people the most, however, was her composure on the biggest stage of the soccer world at such a young age.
On the other end of winners, England finished second in the Women’s World Cup as a solid team with strength, unity, and belief. After winning the 2022 European Women’s Football Championship, England’s Lionesses showed their dominance to reach another final of a major tournament. Without unnecessary pressure from their fans, they seem to win the finals of major tournaments. Yet, with this second-place victory, England’s runner-up saga continues to develop: the men’s team also finished second at the 2020 European Football Championship. It seems that when their fans start singing “It’s coming home,” the trophy the English team is chasing tends to go to another country.
Moving over, the US Women’s National Soccer Team (USNWT) had an upsetting exit in the round of 16, the earliest exit in their Women’s World Cup history. The team’s game against Sweden marked the retirement of Megan Rapinoe, who famously spearheaded the US Soccer Equal Pay lawsuit. Rapinoe’s farewell game ended with her missing an unlucky penalty, followed by a quirky laugh. But the USWNT has plenty of hope for the future with a host of young, talented stars — like Trinity Rodman, Sophia Smith, and Naomi Girma — coming through.
In contrast, Jamaica’s women’s team made it past the group stages for the first time in their second-ever Women’s World Cup appearance. In the group stages, the Reggae Girlz blazed past Panama and drew with France and Brazil, knocking Brazil out of the tournament. Unfortunately, Jamaica failed to get a needed win against Columbia to progress to the quarterfinals. Definitely keep an eye out for them as they look to make their first appearance in the Olympic Games.
Meanwhile, the Morocco women’s team, who also made it past the group stages, fielded the first football player to wear a hijab in Women’s World Cup history, Nouhaila Bezina. Though France had a strong team with stars such as Sakina Karchaoui, Eugénie Le Sommer, and Kadidiatou Diani, the Australian team — led by Sam Kerr — cruised through them to the semifinals, finishing fourth. Sweden had a great tournament, finishing third, while Japan had a quiet World Cup, ending their run in the quarterfinals.
What happened to Canada?
But what happened to the Canadian Women’s National Soccer Team that just recently won Olympic Gold in 2021?
Due to pay equity disputes and inadequate funding for both the men’s and women’s teams since 2021, the players and staff have been striking and negotiating for the past two years. Canada Soccer told both teams they did not have adequate funds to meet the requests players outlined during the strikes. Consequently, the Canada National Women’s Team had to choose between getting paid to play at the World Cup or if they wanted Canada Soccer to only pay for the flights to all their games.
The women’s team settled for an interim collective bargaining agreement before the World Cup that provides per-game pay incentives and results-based compensation to every player. Unfortunately, due to this ongoing dispute, the team still had to prepare for the World Cup without the appropriate staffing needed to run practices. With Canada being one of the best rising nations in soccer, had the World Cup been their only focus, the Canadian women’s team would have most likely gotten past the group stages with ease.