The 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, which kicked off last weekend, is the seventh women’s championship tournament to be played since the matches began in 1991.
Here are some fast facts about the women’s soccer competition.
Largest, longest tournament ever
This year’s competition is the largest and longest in Women’s World Cup history. Twenty-four teams are competing, twice as many as in the first tournament in 1991 and eight more than competed in the last one. Matches are taking place in six cities across Canada, from Vancouver on the West Coast to Moncton in New Brunswick on the East Coast. The final match will be held July 5 in Vancouver.
Scratching the surface
For the first time, the women are playing on artificial turf. The enormously unpopular decision by FIFA prompted some of the biggest stars in women’s soccer to file a lawsuit with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario in the fall. The athletes said the fake grass raised the risk of injury and they accused the federation of discrimination. Men have never been forced to play on artificial turf. In January, the women withdrew the lawsuit because it would not be heard in time. Tournament organizers refused to negotiate.
Who’s the favorite?
The German team is number one in the world, with the United States coming in second, according to FIFA rankings at the end of March. Both teams have two World Cup championships apiece. It has been 16 years since the U.S. team has won a World Cup. Japan, ranked number four behind France, will be defending the title it took the last time the tournament was held in 2011.
Who’s playing for the U.S.
This year’s roster includes veteran player Abby Wambach, who is 35 and holds the world record for international goals in men's and women's soccer. Also returning for the U.S. are goalkeeper Hope Solo, midfielders Megan Rapinoe and Tobin Heath, and forwards Sydney Leroux and Alex Morgan.
U.S. Captain Christie Rampone is the oldest player on the American team. The mother of two young children, she will turn 40 during the tournament on June 24. This is the fifth time she is on a Women’s World Cup roster, as a defender. The younger player, at 22, is Morgan Brian, a midfielder who played for the University of Virginia. This is her first Women’s World Cup.
She’s called Shueme, a young great white owl.
A sometimes dangerous sport
U.S. defenders Ali Krieger and Lori Chalupny both suffered concussions. Krieger was off the field for three weeks earlier this year after the 30-year-old had her second concussion in 20 months. Chalupny, 31, heads to Canada on Team USA after a 5-year layoff following a series of concussions.