South Africa’s football association is planning a bid to host the 2027 Women’s World Cup, its top executive said Tuesday.
“We welcomed the world to South Africa when we hosted the men’s FIFA World Cup 12 years ago, and we would like to be given an opportunity to roll out the red carpet again in 2027 during the women’s tournament,” said SAFA CEO Tebogo Motlanthe told AFP.
The decision to bid was made at the South Africa Football Association (SAFA) weekend executive council meeting.
South Africa hosted the 2010 FIFA men’s World Cup, becoming the first and only African country to have hosted the prestigious competition.
But it faces stiff competition from other bidders such as Netherlands, Belgium and Germany which have already launched a shared bid for the 2027 tournament.
Canada and Costa Rica qualified for the 2023 Women’s World Cup on Friday after winning group stage matches at the CONCACAF W tournament.
Julia Grosso scored in the 64th minute to give Canada, the reigning Olympic champion, a 1-0 victory over Panama while Cristin Granados netted two first-half goals in Costa Rica’s 4-0 victory over Trinidad and Tobago.
Both Costa Rica and Canada improved to 2-0 in their group to clinch berths in Thursday’s semi-finals of the eight-team North American regional tournament and secure trips to Australia and New Zealand for next year’s global women’s football showdown.
Two-time defending Women’s World Cup champion United States has already secured a chance to claim a third straight trophy by reaching the CONCACAF semi-finals.
Either Haiti or Jamaica will take the last available Women’s World Cup berth depending on the outcome of their Monday group-stage match.
Third-place teams from each group advance to next February’s global playoff for three Women’s World Cup spots.
The CONCACAF event serves as the regional qualifier for the 2024 Paris Olympics as well. The CONCACAF champions will secure a Paris 2024 Olympic berth. The runner-up and third-place teams will meet in a playoff next year to determine another spot in that tournament.
Granados scored in the 18th and 45th minutes for Costa Rica while Trinidad and Tobago’s Lauryn Hutchinson netted an own goal in the 33rd and Katherine Alvarado added a final goal for Las Ticas in the 48th.
UEFA’s head of women’s football Nadine Kessler has dismissed claims that European football’s governing body lacked ambition in the selection of venues for Euro 2022, with attendance records for the tournament in England set to be smashed.
Sell-out crowds for the opening game between England and Austria at Old Trafford and the final at Wembley will see the record crowd for a match at a women’s European Championship broken twice.
However, in between those two landmark events on July 6 and 31, the other 29 games will be played in much smaller stadiums.
The selection of Manchester City’s 4,400 capacity Academy Stadium for three group matches was branded “embarrassing” and “disrespectful” by Iceland midfielder Sara Bjork Gunnarsdottir.
The 7,800-capacity Leigh Sports Village will also host four matches, including a quarter-final.
Ticket sales are inching towards a combined half a million, more than double the total attendance for the last women’s Euro in the Netherlands five years ago.
But there are still over 200,000 tickets up for sale and Kessler admitted venue choices had to be based in “reality” to create the best atmosphere possible inside the stadiums.
“We feel like still it’s the right decision,” Kessler told AFP.
“I always say whilst trying to have the greatest ambition we also can’t lose the reality and I’m referring to the past. At our last women’s Euro we had 5,000 spectators on average, if we don’t count the Netherlands matches.
“If you increase the tournament capacity from 430,000 to 720,000, then I don’t think you can say the tournament organisers have not enough ambition.”
– ‘Visible difference’ to 2017 – The tournament had been due to take place in 2021, but was delayed 12 months due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the football calendar.
Covid-19 halted some of the momentum of the women’s game after a record-breaking 2019 World Cup in terms of viewing figures.
But the five years since the last Euro have still been transformative for the women’s game.
Kessler was behind a major change to the women’s Champions League with a group stage introduced for the first time last season.
Money has flowed in from new sponsors, television rights deals and clubs now prepared to spend big on improving the standards of their women’s teams.
“My expectation is really high, I expect a visible difference to 2017,” added Kessler on what to expect on the pitch.
“I felt this already when I watch some domestic football but also throughout the Champions League season.
“Both showed that in many countries there is a big improvement in what happened with the whole professionalisation and standards around the teams increasing.
“It’s only logical that you can see the results also on the pitch.”
Kessler was part of the Germany side that won the Euro in 2013 – one of the eight times Die Nationalelf have won the tournament in 12 editions.
However, it is hosts England and Spain that are the pre-tournament favourites as they look to win a women’s major tournament for the first time.
France, holders the Netherlands and Olympic silver medallists Sweden are realistic contenders, while Norway’s Ada Hegerberg and Denmark captain Pernille Harder will also arm their nations with two of the world’s top strikers.
“It’s good that so many contenders, so many teams, have even declared ambitions publicly that they all want to go for it,” said Kessler.
“The top of the pyramid became a bit wider. That’s exactly what we need also to create more interest.”
FIFA has unveiled an Asiatic lioness, known as Ibha, as the official mascot for the 2022 U-17 Women’s World Cup to mark exactly one year to go until the tournament kicks off in India.
Interestingly, the unveiling ceremony which took place on Monday in Mumbai coincides with the celebration of the International Day of the Girl Child.
Representing “Nari Shakti”, or women’s power, Ibha is a strong, playful, and charming Asiatic lioness that aims to inspire and encourage women and girls by using teamwork, resilience, kindness, and empowering others.
In addition to the meaning behind her name, which approximately translates in Khasi as “one with good vision or judgement”, Ibha also wants to encourage girls in India and around the world to make the right decisions and reach their full potential.
“Ibha is a really exciting and inspiring character, one that young fans across India and around the world will have huge fun enjoying and interacting within the lead-up to the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in India next year,” said FIFA Chief Women’s Football Officer, Sarai Bareman, while describing the mascot’s character.
“2022 is on course to be a hugely significant year for women’s football, with future stars of the game set to showcase their skills in India – just nine months before the FIFA Women’s World Cup kicks off in Australia and New Zealand in 2023.
“Through the platform of the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, Ibha will play an important role in engaging with fans, as well as encouraging and inspiring more women and girls across India and beyond to take part and play the game.”
“The launch of the official mascot Ibha is yet another significant milestone achieved on the road to hosting the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup India 2022,” LOC Chairman, Praful Patel, also said. “Ibha symbolises courage and strength, which are core qualities of every woman, while also embodying the vibrance and visionary spirit of the tournament.
“Today, also being International Day of the Girl Child, it is an appropriate occasion to reveal the mascot who will stand for a powerful and lively image that will inspire women to take new strides in not just football, but in other walks of life too.”
The next edition of the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup will take place in India from October 11 to 30, 2022.
Politicians, athletes and even an astronaut celebrated the US victory in the women’s World Cup on Sunday, and the mayor of New York announced a ticker tape parade for the football champions.
A penalty by Megan Rapinoe and a strike by Rose Lavelle took the United States women to a 2-0 victory over the Netherlands in the final in Lyon, France.
It was their second consecutive win in the tournament and a record-setting fourth overall.
“I want to congratulate the women’s soccer team on winning the World Cup. That’s an incredible achievement,” US President Donald Trump told reporters in New Jersey. “It is a great honour to have them capture it for the United States.”
In a statement, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said “the confidence, grit, and perseverance of the US women’s national soccer team (serves) as an inspiration to all who watch them,” and that they’d be welcomed to the city with a parade on Wednesday.
They received a similar honour after their previous World Cup victory in 2015.
The US women “never fail to make our country proud – on and off the field,” Joe Biden, the former Democratic vice president who leads Trump, a Republican, in polls ahead of next year’s presidential election, wrote on Twitter.
In Chicago, nearly 9,000 people wearing the red, white and blue of the American flag gathered to watch the final on a large screen, jumping and cheering with each goal scored.
“It was an incredible game to watch and my body was tense the whole time. It’s like, go US, man!” soccer fan Emma MacMillan told AFP.
Alexandra Warrington, who attended a viewing party at National Harbor outside the capital Washington, called Rapinoe’s performance a highlight.
“I’ve idolized her my whole life growing up so just seeing her keep excelling is just awesome,” she said.
US media pointed to the historic nature of the team’s win, which put the American women among the great teams in global football.
“It’s not only the history they made, though there is plenty of that,” wrote USA Today.
The daily noted that their fourth victory was more than any other women’s team but also the same number as the German and Brazilian mens’ squads, who are in second-place for total victories in the men’s World Cup.
“It wasn’t just what the Americans did on the field. The monumental expectations on them, the relentless criticism of them — they shouldered it all without a seeming care,” the newspaper said.
The team is no stranger to controversy and dispute, having filed a lawsuit against the US Soccer Federation accusing the organization of gender discrimination.
House of Representatives speaker Nancy Pelosi alluded to their grievance when she wrote on Twitter: “The Women’s National Team showed us their greatness – now show them the money.”
After the World Cup started in June, star player Rapinoe publicly feuded with Trump.
Rapinoe said she’d stay home if the team is invited to the White House. She urged her teammates to do the same to protest the president’s policies and character.
Trump responded on Twitter that “Megan should never disrespect our Country, the White House, or our Flag, especially since so much has been done for her & the team.”
Championship US sports teams are traditionally honoured with an invitation to Washington, though Trump has at times revoked invitations after team members criticized him.
While the spirit of the nation soared sky-high with the women’s victory, former American astronaut Scott Kelly was just happy to be on Earth for their win.
When the US side beat Japan in the 2015 World Cup final, Kelly celebrated aboard the International Space Station, posting on Twitter a picture of an American flag floating in space.
This year, he tweeted that he “enjoyed watching you score again for USA on Earth this time!”
Megan Rapinoe made it a special hat-trick on Sunday as she won Golden Ball and Golden Boot at the women’s World Cup after scoring as the United States beat the Netherlands to retain their title.
Rapinoe bagged the Golden Boot for top scorer after opening the scoring from the spot in the USA’s 2-0 final win over the Netherlands in Lyon to make it six goals and three assists from her five appearances in France, the same total as teammate Alex Morgan but in fewer minutes.
The 34-year-old, who may have played her last World Cup, won the Golden Ball for a series of match-winning displays which dragged the Americans to the trophy.
She scored the only goals in the USA’s tight 2-1 wins over Spain and hosts France, with the second brace coming in the middle of a media storm after a video surfaced of her saying she would refuse to visit the White House should her side win the competition.
She missed the last four victory over England, also won 2-1, with a hamstring injury but came up big on Sunday with another fine display that would have seen her assist tally increase had Dutch goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal not put in a magnificent display.
Van Veenendaal kept out the dominant USA until Rapinoe broke the Netherlands’ resistance in the 61st minute with a penalty awarded after a VAR check for a foul on Morgan.
The United States retained the women’s World Cup on Sunday as a Megan Rapinoe penalty and a superb Rose Lavelle strike gave the holders a 2-0 victory over a battling Netherlands side in Lyon.
Having been kept at bay by the brilliant Dutch goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal throughout the first half, the USA finally went ahead just after the hour as Rapinoe stroked home from 12 yards to end the tournament as joint top scorer on six goals.
There was an air of inevitability about the pink-haired 34-year-old, the star of this World Cup on and off the field, putting the USA ahead.
It also seemed inevitable that the breakthrough goal here should come from a VAR-awarded penalty, with French referee Stephanie Frappart initially giving a corner before pointing to the spot following a review.
The whippet-like Lavelle, another stand-out performer over the last month, got the second goal in the 69th minute, killing off Dutch hopes of a comeback.
The victory underlines the USA’s status as the dominant force in international women’s football as they claim the World Cup for the fourth time in eight editions.
They were already the first team to appear in three consecutive finals, and coach Jill Ellis becomes the first coach to win back-to-back World Cups in the men’s or women’s game since Italy’s Vittorio Pozzo in the 1930s.
The USA had been the only non-European team to make it to the quarter-finals here, but they had already ended the hopes of the hosts and England before denying the Dutch a dream double success, two years after they won Euro 2017 on home soil.
Whether the Americans can continue this domination on to the next World Cup remains to be seen, not least because Rapinoe is already in the twilight years of her career.
She was brought back into the starting line-up here by Ellis having sat out the victory over England in the last four due to a hamstring problem.
Christen Press made way but came on for the closing stages, as Rapinoe went off to a loud ovation from the massed ranks of USA fans.
Goalkeeping heroics in vain
At a tournament which has showcased the improving standards of goalkeeping in the women’s game, the excellent Van Veenendaal prevented the USA from winning by a greater margin.
The 29-year-old, who has spent the last four years at Arsenal, had already excelled in her team’s win over Sweden in the semi-finals.
Here, she allowed her team to withstand an onslaught from the holders towards half-time, saving well from Julie Ertz and bettering that by producing two superb stops in quick succession in the 38th minute.
Both American chances came from crosses from the left by Rapinoe. First Van Veenendaal stopped a Samantha Mewis header, and then she turned the ball onto the post when Alex Morgan diverted Rapinoe’s low centre towards goal.
Morgan was thwarted again moments later as she tried her luck from 20 yards, and the European champions held out until the interval.
The USA had scored no later than the 12th minute in all of their prior matches at this World Cup, but the Dutch, crucially, offered little going forward at the other end.
Still, it was 61 minutes before the holders went ahead.
The referee gave a corner when Stefanie van der Gragt challenged Morgan in the area, but changed her mind upon seeing the images. Rapinoe stroked in the first penalty scored in a women’s World Cup final to claim a share of the golden boot with Morgan and England’s Ellen White.
The Netherlands tried to regain their composure, but there was nothing they could do to stop Lavelle’s piercing run towards the box midway through the second half.
She dropped her shoulder to set up the shooting opportunity and fired in low from 18 yards. Van Veenendaal then saved from Morgan and Dunn to keep the score down, but the title was the USA’s again.
Sari van Veenendaal (capt); Desiree van Lunteren, Anouk Dekker, Stefanie van der Gragt, Dominique Bloodworth; Jackie Groenen, Danielle van de Donk, Sherida Spitse; Lineth Beerensteyn, Vivianne Miedema, Lieke Martens
Megan Rapinoe stole the headlines again as her brace took the United States through to the semi-finals of the women’s World Cup on Friday, the holders beating France 2-1 in Paris to puncture the hopes of the host nation.
Rapinoe’s free-kick five minutes into this quarter-final evaded a sea of bodies in the penalty box on its way into the net to stun the home crowd at the Parc des Princes.
The USA then soaked up pressure before delivering the knockout blow midway through the second half when Rapinoe turned in Tobin Heath’s low centre, although Wendie Renard pulled a goal back late on for France to set up a tense finish.
Jill Ellis’s team held on and they go through to a semi-final showdown with England in Lyon next Tuesday as they seek to retain their crown and win a fourth World Cup in eight editions.
“We’d have loved to play nicer, but we now have England and we move on,” said Rapinoe.
“This is so special to beat the host nation in the Parc des Princes. You can’t ask for any more than this.”
The pink-haired Rapinoe has been crucial on the field in this run, while dominating headlines off it thanks to her spat with President Donald Trump over her refusal to attend any post-tournament reception at the White House.
The 33-year-old had already scored both goals in the 2-1 win over Spain in the last round. Here, she took her tally for the tournament to five goals on the occasion of her 157th cap.
Meanwhile, France will leave their own tournament with more than a few regrets.
They were the only team to defeat the USA in the two years leading up to the World Cup and they did not really do themselves justice here before an expectant crowd, at least until it was too late.
Coach Corinne Diacre had been set the target of going all the way to the final on home soil, but that always looked a tall order from the moment the draw was made last December and they were set on a quarter-final collision course with the best team in the world.
Only once before had they even made it to the semi-finals, and for the second World Cup running their adventure ends in the last eight, the same stage at which they went out of the 2016 Olympics and the last three European Championships.
Having started this tournament with a first-half blitz against South Korea in the opening game, Les Bleues never really reached the same heights again.
The country’s leading sports daily L’Equipe had called this “the challenge of a lifetime”, and in that context conceding the opening goal so early on a sweltering Parisian evening was a disaster.
Alex Morgan drew a foul from Griedge Mbock outside the penalty box to the USA left, and Rapinoe’s low delivery somehow went in without taking a touch, passing through the legs of France skipper Amandine Henry en route.
The home side had lots of the ball after that but rarely looked like troubling USA goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher and their supporters grew increasingly frustrated.
Their opponents had not created much either, but they made their intent clear right at the start of the second half as a Samantha Mewis strike drew a fine save from Sarah Bouhaddi, who then did well to keep out Heath’s follow-up.
The second goal arrived in the 65th minute, with Morgan and Heath combining down the right before the latter’s ball across goal was turned in by Rapinoe.
Heath then had a third goal disallowed for offside but France did not give up and set up a frenzied finale as they reduced the deficit nine minutes from time.
Gaethane Thiney flighted a free-kick from the left into the box and Renard evaded her marker to head home her fourth goal of the tournament. But the USA saw out the victory.
The real competition is only just beginning as the women’s World Cup heads into the knockout phase with hosts France and holders the United States — the two favourites — on a collision course to meet in the quarter-finals.
Progress through the group phase has been largely serene for both sides, although a knock to star striker Alex Morgan has given the USA some cause for concern before their last-16 tie against Spain on Monday.
There have been plenty of positives to take from the two weeks of competition so far, but there has also been controversy stemming from the use of Video Assistant Referees.
The VAR again came to the fore in the USA’s 2-0 win over Sweden on Thursday, with Jonna Andersson’s second-half own goal in Le Havre somehow standing despite substitute Carli Lloyd appearing to interfere with the play from an offside position in the build-up.
Law changes wreak havoc
VAR is clearly struggling to deal with the new definition of handball, but the biggest controversies have come from retaken penalties, in Nigeria’s defeat against France and then for Argentina to eliminate Scotland.
If the use of VAR at the 2018 World Cup in Russia was ultimately deemed a success, recent modifications to the laws of the game are causing problems.
Scotland and Nigeria were undone by a change to the law on penalty kicks, meaning a goalkeeper must now have “at least part of one foot on… the goal line when the kick is taken”.
The VAR found that Scotland goalkeeper Lee Alexander, like Nigeria’s Chiamaka Nnadozie, had strayed fractionally in front of the line, and penalties either missed or saved were retaken and converted.
Critics might suggest FIFA are using the women’s World Cup as a laboratory to see how VAR copes with the law changes, although the fact hardly any of the officials on the field had prior experience to working with video assistants has not helped.
Heading into the knockout rounds, the fear has to be that chaos could ensue if any tie heads to a penalty shoot-out.
The controversy has drawn attention away from the on-pitch successes, with all the favourites advancing untroubled.
In the absence of Norway’s Ballon d’Or winning star Ada Hegerberg, other players have stepped up.
Brazil’s Marta became the World Cup’s all-time leading scorer with 17 goals, while Morgan grabbed five in her country’s 13-0 demolition of Thailand, the biggest ever victory at the tournament.
The gulf between the established nations and the developing countries was laid bare in that game, and one thing Thailand have certainly lacked is a top-class goalkeeper.
However, there has been plenty of evidence to show that women’s goalkeeping is improving considerably, and Chile’s Christiane Endler carried a torch for the smaller nations with her world-class display in her country’s 3-0 loss against the USA.
“We don’t even have a professional league in Chile,” pointed out Endler.
“Without doubt, qualifying for the World Cup has been a big step forward for us, but it must just be the start. We need to open the doors to little girls in Chile.”
Fans are watching around the world, with record audiences tuning in to coverage of games in Italy and in the United Kingdom. In France, almost 11 million viewers watched the hosts’ opening game against South Korea.
There is a fervour around the host nation’s matches, which have attracted sell-out crowds. Often, though, attendances have been disappointing. Most matches have not sold out.
Nevertheless, organisers are happy ahead of Saturday’s first game in the round of 16, between Germany and Nigeria.
“Before criticising some of the attendances we need to first of all be happy that so many people are turning up,” Erwan Le Prevost, head of the Local Organising Committee, told AFP.
France have defeated Nigeria’s Super Falcons to qualify for the round of 16 of the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Wendie Renard’s penalty goal in the 79th-minute goal was all it took for France to edge past the Falcons who put up a brave challenge throughout the clash.
The victory confirmed top spot for France in Group A.
The French needed a point to take first place in the group but Renard gave them all three from the spot at the second attempt after Nigeria goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie was judged to have encroached for Renard’s first effort, which hit the post.
Norway have also gone through to the last 16 of the Women’s World Cup after beating South Korea 2-1 with two penalties.
Caroline Graham Hansen gave Norway an early lead from the spot after Cho So-Hyun was judged to have grabbed Maria Thorisdottir in the third minute, before winning the decisive second penalty shortly after the break when she was chopped down by Kang Chae-rim.
The Barcelona attacker had to watch while she received treatment on the sidelines as Isabell Herlovsen just squeezed home Norway’s second to secure the points from a nervy encounter and seal second place in Group A, despite Yeo Min-Ji’s poked finish 12 minutes from time.
They also survived a late scare from the impressive Koreans when Min-ji headed a fraction wide in stoppage time.
In the next round, Martin Sjogren’s side will take on one of Italy, Brazil and Australia, who go into the last round of matches in Group C on Tuesday with first place and a potential two further last 16 places up for grabs.
Outsiders Italy need just a point against Brazil to top the group while the Australians can snatch second place if they beat point-less bottom side Jamaica and the Brazilians — in second level on three points with the Aussies — fail to win.
France meanwhile will take on one of the four best third-placed finishers following their 1-0 win, but face the prospect of tackling defending champions the USA in the quarter-finals should the Americans as expected top Group F and win their subsequent last 16 tie.
Germany meanwhile ensured they missed the Americans in the next round after they topped Group B with a perfect nine points following a comprehensive 4-0 win over South Africa earlier on Monday.
It could instead be Spain, who qualify for the next round in second place behind the Germans after a goalless draw with also-through China, to play the world’s best team.
Nigeria inched towards qualifying for the knockout stages of the Women’s World Cup for the first time in 20 years after beating South Korea 2-0 on Wednesday.
A comical 29th-minute own goal from Kim Do-yeon, who somehow hooked a long ball back past onrushing goalkeeper Kim Min-jung, and Asisat Oshoala’s neat finish 15 minutes from the end left the South Koreans pointless after their first two games in Group A and put Nigeria level on three with France and Norway ahead of their crunch clash in Nice later on Wednesday.
Thomas Dennerby’s Nigeria can now legitimately hope for a place in the last 16 regardless of what happens in their last group match against the tournament-hosting French.
Four third place finishers from the six groups will qualify, meaning three points could well be enough to see the Super Falcons through to the knockout rounds for the first time since 1999, when they reached the quarter-finals in the US.
South Korea meanwhile face an uphill task to go through now as they face a strong Norway side in their final match, after watching Lee Geum-min’s strike ruled out for a very tight offside just before the hour mark.
Later, Group B leaders Spain face off against strongly-fancied Germany in Valenciennes, with the two sides locked on three points and aiming to secure qualification with a game to spare.
The Germans are missing star playmaker Dzsenifer Marozsan, who has bee ruled out until least the end of the group stage after breaking her toe during her side’s 1-0 win over China on Saturday