Top 10 Interesting Facts – FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023


The FIFA Women's World Cup 2023 (FWWC) kicked off today as co-hosts New Zealand already beat Norway 1-0 in the opening match of the tournament. As the world of football turns its attention to the showpiece event, we take a look at some interesting FWWC facts. This is the first edition of the tournament with 32 teams participating, matching the number of teams in the men’s FIFA World Cup (which will have its first 48-team edition from 2026) for the first time ever.

Ahead of the kick-off, FIFPRO and Football Benchmark have analysed the workload of women’s players in a report that focuses on the period leading up to the event. At the same time, Football Benchmark is also launching its women’s football data coverage with the addition of the English Women’s Super League clubs (first tier of English domestic football) in the “Club Finance & Operations” dashboard, covering 2020/21 and 2021/22 seasons.

1. Hosts and winners

The FWWC 2023 in Australia & New Zealand marks an important milestone as the first co-hosted edition in the history of the tournament. In total, six countries (China x2, USA x2, Sweden, Germany, Canada, France) have welcomed the elite of women’s football during the previous eight editions. Team USA is the team to beat after winning half of the previous editions, including being the defending champions after beating the Netherlands 2-0 in the 2019 final. The only other nation who won more than one World Cup trophy is Germany, succeeding in 2003 and 2007.

2. Top goal scorers

Unsurprisingly, the two most successful teams are also the leading scorers in the tournament’s history, being the only two teams exceeding the 100-goal mark. Norway is looking to become the third nation to achieve this feat, needing to score 7 goals to reach the three-digit milestone.

Looking at the players, it is the Brazilian legend, Marta, who is leading the all-time scoring list with 17 goals – a quarter of total goals scored by Brazil in the history of the tournament. Together with Canadian forward, Christine Sinclair, they are the only two players participating in this World Cup with more than 10 goals scored in previous editions as both players are looking to further enhance their legacy.

3. The evolution of the number of participating teams

As mentioned in the introduction, this edition is also the first FIFA Women’s World Cup featuring 32 participants, following multiple format expansions, testifying the continuous growth of women’s football around the world. However, as highlighted in the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup - Workload Journey Report by FIFPRO, the transition to a larger field of participants has taken place in a much quicker way for Women’s compared to Men’s: indeed, the FWWC featured only two editions with 24 participants before growing to 32, compared to four editions for men’s.

4. Group stage draw

The 32 participating teams have been drawn to 8 groups of four, with the two best teams from each group progressing to the knockout rounds. The expansion of total participants gives the chance for eight debutants (Haiti, Morocco, Panama, Philippines, Portugal, Republic of Ireland, Vietnam and Zambia) to showcase themselves, while 20 teams have also taken part in the previous, 2019 edition. Interestingly, the two finalists of the 2019 edition were drawn into the same group.

5. Most followed players on Instagram

The increasing global reach of women’s football is evident when observing the Instagram followership of players. Two national teams have at least one representative above the 10 million-follower mark – Alisha Lehmann (Switzerland) and Alex Morgan (USA). Overall, the most followed player for seven national teams is exceeding 1 million followers; on the other hand, the discrepancy between the most popular players by team remains huge, with many players reaching only a few thousand followers.

6. Squad workload

Also revealed in the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup - Workload Journey Report by FIFPRO, there is a marked disparity in workload distribution among the national teams participating in the tournament. The number of appearances and the minutes played by the squads in the latest season are considerably different among the participants. European squads are the ones with the highest playing time, mostly utilising a developed football set-up featuring also a secondary cup competition for clubs, as in the case of England, Portugal and Netherlands. Conversely, many teams arrive at the World Cup with limited playing opportunities during the season resulting in underload, as for Jamaica, Haiti and the Philippines.

Moreover, it is worth noting that eight countries were excluded from the analysis due to data unavailability, also in terms of basic information in relation to players. Clearly, addressing this issue is crucial for the sustained development of women’s football.

7. FWWC prize money evolution

The recent development of women’s football is also testified by the sizeable growth of the distributed funds over time and, specifically, prize money. The 2007 edition in China was the first one featuring any prize money for participating teams, with an initial total figure of USD 5.8 million. Since then, FIFA also introduced further funds (Preparation money and Club Benefits Programme) to support national teams and eventually also clubs.

The 2023 edition of the FWWC sees a total of USD 110 million distributed among the teams as prize money, with USD 10.5 million for the winners, of which USD 6.2 million guaranteed to the players;  a further USD 42.2 million are allocated in the form of Preparation money (i.e.: financial support provided to national teams to assist in covering the expenses incurred to prepare for the tournament) and as part of the Club Benefits Programme (i.e.: financial compensation awarded to clubs for releasing their players to the national teams). Compared to the distribution of the 2019 edition, this means a massive, 200% increase, also due to the higher number of participating teams. Moreover, for the first time ever, each player will receive at least USD 30 thousand for participating in the tournament.

Despite the fast-paced growth, the target of achieving equal prize money between the men’s and women’s World Cup is still far. During the men’s 2022 FIFA World Cup, teams received a total of USD 440 million of prize money, which is still more than four times the amount of what the women’s teams receive, a gap that is expected to grow further with the expansion to 48 teams from 2026.

8. Evolution of attendance figures

While the average attendance of the past four FWWC editions shows a decreasing trend, there are also encouraging signs for women’s football with club attendances on the rise and the 2022 UEFA Women’s Euro breaking attendance records. The final of last year’s tournament between England and Germany played at Wembley Stadium has become the most-attended women’s football match ever (87,192 spectators), while the average attendance figure also doubled from the previous continental record.

While matchday figures are reported to be encouraging in Australia, expectations are more pessimistic in New Zealand. For this reason, FIFA is looking to boost attendance figures by giving away a total of 20 thousand free tickets in the country; however, due to the relatively lower overall popularity of football, it is believed that previous attendance records are not “in danger”.

Addition of Women’s Super League to Football Benchmark

Besides national teams, women’s football growth in the close future will also depend on clubs’ performance and exposure; better on-pitch results will drive higher interest from fans, broadcasters and commercial sponsors, which will turn into more resources to be invested in the squad, infrastructure and the academy, triggering a much-needed virtuous cycle in order to bridge the gap with men’s football.

9. Revenue of the WSL

In order to provide a snapshot of the financial performance of women clubs, a brand-new section on the Women Super League will soon be launched on Football Benchmark. Results show how such a gap is very significant nowadays, and many steps need to be undertaken before getting to a fair comparison.

More specifically, the 10 clubs for which the 2021/22 financial statements were available at the time of writing (out of a total of 12) generated approximately GBP 31 million in operating revenues. Among them, Arsenal FC Women and Chelsea FC Women both exceeded GBP 6 million, while Leicester City FC Women only generated GBP 0.45 million.

10. Operating expenses of the WSL

2021/22 total operating expenses – including wages and salaries - were above GBP 3 million for all the analysed clubs, except for Reading FC Women and Birmingham City FC Women. The gap with men football is evident also when focusing on the cost side, as total OPEX of women clubs accounted for less than 3% of men’s (less than 5% in the case of Reading and Birmingham), highlighting once more the persistent challenge regarding the existing gulf between professional women and men players and the compensation discrepancy within the sport.

To further explore the financial landscape of women’s football, financial figures of the Women’s Super League will be available soon on the Football Benchmark’s “Club Finance & Operations” dashboard. This new feature will allow for a deeper understanding of the financials of English women's clubs and will serve as a valuable resource for gaining insights into the financial progress and development of women’s football overall.