Girish Mahajan

2015 FIFA Women's World Cup

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Host country  Canada
Runners-up  Japan
Fourth place  Germany
Dates  6 Jun 2015 – 5 Jul 2015
Teams  24
Venue(s)  6 (in 6 host cities)
Third place  England
Best player  Carli Lloyd
Goals scored  146
Attendance  1,353,506

Champions  United States (3rd title)
Champion  United States women's national soccer team
Similar  2014 FIFA World Cup, 2015 Cricket World Cup, 1930 FIFA World Cup, 2014 CONCACAF Women's, 2015 Algarve Cup

The 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup was the seventh FIFA Women's World Cup, the quadrennial international women's football world championship tournament. In March 2011, Canada won the right to host the event, the first time the country would host the tournament and the third time it has been held in North America. Matches were played in six cities across Canada in five time zones. The tournament began on 6 June 2015, and finished with the finals on 5 July 2015 with a United States victory over Japan.

Contents

The 2015 tournament saw the World Cup expanded to 24 teams from 16 in 2011. Canada's team received direct entry as host and a qualification tournament of 134 teams was held for the remaining 23 places. With the expanded tournament, eight teams made their Women's World Cup debut. All previous Women's World Cup finalists qualified for the tournament, with defending champions Japan and returning champions Germany (2003, 2007) and the United States (1991, 1999) among the seeded teams.

The 2015 tournament used goal-line technology for the first time with the Hawk-Eye system. It was also the first World Cup for either men or women to be played on artificial turf, with all matches played on such surfaces. There were some initial concerns over a possible increased risk of injuries from playing on artificial turf, but a legal challenge suggesting matches should be played on grass as in similar men's tournaments was dropped in January 2015.

Host selection

The bidding for each FIFA Women's World Cup typically includes hosting rights for the previous year's FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup (similar to the men's version, in which the host nation stages the Confederations Cup the year before). Bids for the tournament were required to be submitted by December 2010. Only two bids were submitted:

  • Canada
  • Zimbabwe (withdrawn)
  • Zimbabwe withdrew its bid on 1 March 2011. The country was seen as a long shot as its women's team was ranked 103rd in the world at the time of the bid and has never qualified for a Women's World Cup. There is also ongoing political and economic instability in the country.

    Qualification

    For 2015, the number of qualifying teams grew from 16 to 24 and scheduled matches increased from 32 to 52. On 11 June 2012, FIFA announced a change to the allocation of the qualifying berths for its continental confederations. The FIFA Executive Committee approved the following slot allocation and the distribution of eight new slots:

  • AFC (Asia): 5 slots (up from 3)
  • CAF (Africa): 3 slots (up from 2)
  • CONCACAF (North, Central America and Caribbean): 3.5 slots (up from 2.5)
  • CONMEBOL (South America): 2.5 slots (up from 2)
  • OFC (Oceania): 1 slot (same as 2011)
  • UEFA (Europe): 8 slots (up from 4.5)
  • Host Nation: 1 slot (same as 2011)
  • After North Korea had several players test positive for performance-enhancing drugs during the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup, FIFA banned the North Korean team from participating in the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup in Canada. This was the first time a women's team had been banned from a Women's World Cup, and it was the first time since 1995 that North Korea did not participate in a Women's World Cup.

    Qualified teams

    The latest published FIFA Rankings prior to the tournament (March 2015) are shown in brackets.

    Broadcasting

    The 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup was one of the first FIFA tournaments under new rights deals in two North American markets. In its host country of Canada, the competition was televised by CTV, TSN and RDS (French) through a new rights agreement with parent company Bell Media. In the United States, English-language television rights were held by Fox Sports with coverage carried on the main Fox broadcast network, along with the Fox Sports 1 and Fox Sports 2 pay TV channels. Spanish-language rights were held by NBC Deportes, with telecasts airing on Telemundo over-the-air and NBC Universo on cable. Fox constructed a temporary studio for the Women's World Cup at Jack Poole Plaza in Vancouver, located outside the Vancouver Convention Centre.

    In December 2014, the European Broadcasting Union extended its rights to FIFA tournaments for its members in 37 countries, including the 2015 Women's World Cup. In the United Kingdom, all matches from the tournament were shown by the BBC across BBC Two, BBC Three and BBC Red Button. All England games, and other selected matches, were broadcast on radio by BBC Radio 5 Live. In Australia, SBS aired all 52 matches live online, and televised 41 matches live, with the only matches not televised live being those which aired concurrently.

    Mascot and sponsors

    On 17 June 2014, the mascot of the tournament, Shuéme, a female great white owl was unveiled at the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa.

    The five top-tier sponsors were Coca-Cola, Adidas, Hyundai–Kia, Visa, and Gazprom. In the final week of the tournament, the Canadian government added Gazprom to a list of organizations sanctioned for supporting the Russian annexation of Crimea. Media suggested the addition was delayed to reduce embarrassment to FIFA.

    Venues

    The cities of Vancouver, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Montreal and Moncton were selected to host tournament matches. Halifax was also considered, but removed itself from contention in March 2012. Toronto decided not to bid, due to potential conflicts with the 2015 Pan American Games. Due to FIFA's policy against commercial sponsorship of stadium names, Investors Group Field in Winnipeg and TD Place Stadium in Ottawa were respectively known as Winnipeg Stadium and Lansdowne Stadium during the tournament.

    Canada had previously hosted FIFA tournaments including the 1987 FIFA U-16 World Championship, 2002 FIFA U-19 Women's World Championship, the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup, which set an attendance record for that tournament, and most recently the 2014 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup.

    Note: Seating capacities as configured for these FIFA games.

    Artificial turf

    All of the tournament's venues had fields composed of artificial turf, which some players believe results in a higher risk of injuries to players. More than 50 players protested the use of the surface instead of grass on the basis of gender discrimination. They filed a lawsuit challenging FIFA's decision to play on artificial turf, claiming FIFA would never allow the men's World Cup to be played on "unsafe" artificial turf and thus the organizers had violated the Canadian Human Rights Act. 2012 Women's World Player of the Year Abby Wambach noted "The men would strike playing on artificial turf." The controversial issue of gender equality and an equal playing field for all sparked debate in many countries around the world. An application filed on 1 October 2014 with the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal by a group of women's international soccer players against FIFA and the Canadian Soccer Association noted that, in 1994, FIFA spent $2 million to plant natural grass over artificial turf in New Jersey and Detroit. Some celebrities and prominent players showed their support for the women soccer players in defence of their lawsuit, including United States men's team keeper Tim Howard. Even with the possibility of boycotts, FIFA's head of women's competitions, Tatjana Haenni, made it clear "We play on artificial turf and there's no Plan B." In January 2015, the lawsuit was withdrawn by the players.

    Fox commentator Julie Steward-Binks measured the turf temperature at several games. On 21 June at the Canada vs Switzerland round of 16 game in Vancouver, she reported that her thermometer was "officially broken". Her thermometer appears to max out at 120 °F (49 °C).

    During the tournament, Australian striker Michelle Heyman slammed the playing conditions, saying the turf is like "walking on hot coals" and the players feet "just turn white, your skin is all ripped off".

    Prior to the start of the Australia vs Japan quarterfinal in Edmonton on 27 June, Fox commentator Kyndra de St. Aubin measured the air temperature at 82 °F (28 °C) and the turf temperature at 150 °F (66 °C). Despite such dangerous conditions, officials decided against taking cooling breaks during the match because the air temperature was under 32 °C (90 °F). As the game wore on, players appeared noticeably exhausted due to the playing conditions.

    Squads

    Each team's squad for the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup consisted of 23 players (three of whom must be goalkeepers), two more than the 2011 tournament, and the same number as men's World Cup squads. Each participating national association was required to confirm its final 23-player squad no later than 10 working days before the start of the tournament. Replacement of seriously injured players was permitted until 24 hours before the team in question's first World Cup game.

    The squads were officially announced by FIFA on 28 May 2015. Formiga of Brazil and Homare Sawa of Japan were included in World Cup squads for the sixth time, a record for any men or women players.

    Match officials

    A total of 22 referees, 7 support referees, and 44 assistant referees were selected for the tournament.

    Draw

    The draw was held on 6 December 2014 at 12:00 Eastern Standard Time at the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. The seeding pots were announced the day before. Because UEFA qualified eight teams into the final tournament, which had only six groups, two groups by necessity had to contain two European teams. Otherwise, no group could have more than one team from any confederation.

    Controversies

  • Despite having a lower FIFA ranking, Brazil was seeded ahead of Sweden for geographical reasons.
  • Before the draw, the Organizing Committee placed the seeded teams in the following groups: Germany in Group B, Japan in Group C, United States in Group D, Brazil in Group E, and France in Group F; Canada were already in Group A as the tournament host. Not drawing the groups for the seeded teams has drawn some criticism. A FIFA spokesperson later confirmed that teams were allocated to certain groups for promotional reasons.
  • Group stage

    The provisional match schedule for the tournament was released on 21 March 2013, with the hosts, Canada, placed in position A1. The final schedule with match times was released on the same day right after the draw was made.

    The first round, or group stage, saw the twenty four teams divided into six groups of four teams. Each group was played in a round-robin-format of six games, where each team played one match against each of the other teams in the same group. Teams were awarded three points for a win, one point for a draw and none for a defeat. The winners and runners-up from each group, as well as the best four third-placed teams, qualified for the first round of the knockout stage.

    The ranking of each team in each group were determined as follows:

    If two or more teams were on the basis of the above three criteria, their rankings were determined as follows:

    Ranking of third-placed teams

    The four best third-placed teams from the six groups advanced to the next stage along with the six group winners and six runners-up. The ranking of the third-placed teams were determined by the "rules for classification" listed below the table (that is, ranked by columns Pts, GD, and GF in sequence; then by drawing lots).

    In the next stage the four third-placed teams were matched with the winners of groups A, B, C and D according to a table published in Section 28 of the tournament regulations.

    Knockout stage

    The knockout stage comprises the 16 teams that advanced from the group stage of the tournament. There are four rounds of matches, with each round eliminating half of the teams entering that round. The successive rounds are the round of 16, quarter-finals, semi-finals, and the final. There is also a match to decide third and fourth place. For each game in the knockout stage, any draw at 90 minutes is followed by 30 minutes of extra time; if scores are still level, there is a penalty shootout to determine who progresses to the next round. Single yellow cards accrued will be cancelled after the quarter-finals, therefore ensuring that no players miss the Final because of receiving a caution in the semi-finals.

    Combinations of matches in the Round of 16

    The third-placed teams which advanced will be placed with the winners of groups A, B, C and D according to a table published in Section 28 of the tournament regulations.

    Goalscorers

    6 goals
  • Célia Šašić
  • Carli Lloyd
  • 5 goals
  • Anja Mittag
  • 3 goals
    2 goals
    1 goal
    1 own goal
  • Laura Bassett (playing against Japan)
  • Jennifer Ruiz (playing against France)
  • Desire Oparanozie (playing against Sweden)
  • Julie Johnston (playing against Japan)
  • 2 own goals
  • Angie Ponce (in the same match, playing against Switzerland)
  • Source: FIFA.com

    Awards

    The following awards were given at the conclusion of the tournament.

    Notes

    All-Star Team

    The All-Star Team elected by FIFA's Technical Study Group consists of the following players:

    Dream Team

    The Dream Team elected by users of fifa.com consists of the following players and manager:

    Prize money

    The total prize money offered by FIFA for the tournament was US$15 million, which represents 2.6% of the total prize money for the 2014 Men's World Cup ($576 million).

    The winning team, United States, received $2 million, representing 5.7% of the amount received by Germany for winning the 2014 Men's World Cup ($35 million).

    Tournament ranking

    Per statistical convention in football, matches decided in extra time are counted as wins and losses, while matches decided by penalty shoot-out are counted as draws.

    Qualification for the 2016 Summer Olympics

    Same as the qualification process for previous Olympics, UEFA uses the World Cup to determine which women's national teams from Europe qualify for the Olympic football tournament. Three places in the 2016 Summer Olympics women's football tournament, to be held in Brazil, are reserved for teams from Europe. These are filled by the UEFA teams that progress the furthest in the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup, other than ineligible England. Two places went to France and Germany, the only UEFA quarter-finalists besides England. The third best finish was a tie between four teams eliminated in the round of 16: Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland. No tiebreaker criteria based on World Cup Finals performances was used: instead a play-off tournament in March 2016 determined UEFA's third Olympic qualifier. Sweden won the tournament and qualified for the last available Olympic spot from Europe.

    Even though England were one of the top three UEFA teams in the World Cup, they were not eligible to play at the Olympics. The English Football Association (FA) is affiliated to the British Olympic Association and on 2 March 2015 said it wanted a British Olympic team to compete if England earned a place. Following strong objections from the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish football associations, and a commitment from FIFA that they would not allow entry of a British team unless all four Home Nations agreed, the FA announced on 30 March 2015 that they would not seek entry into the Olympic tournament. Similar circumstances prevented them from playing in the 2008 Olympics, when England finished as one of the top three UEFA teams in the 2007 FIFA Women's World Cup. Great Britain did compete in 2012 as the host nation.

    References

    2015 FIFA Women's World Cup Wikipedia


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