Which Countries Have Hosted the Women’s World Cup?

Women’s football, like women’s sport more generally, is very much on the up. For many years it has been taken very seriously in nations like the USA, Germany and much of Scandinavia, but only recently has it got the respect it deserves in the UK. Media coverage has increased dramatically, though still lags a long way behind that which the men’s game receives. Even so, increasingly the whole nation gets behind the Lionesses at the two biggest tournaments, the Euros and the World Cup.

England are the current European champions, having won the 2022 Euros on home soil in front of a packed Wembley in what was a watershed moment for the women’s game in this country. They also hosted that competition in 2005, when they could not make it out of the group phase. But has England ever hosted the Women’s World Cup? Let’s take a look at all the nations that have staged the most prestigious competition in female football.

1991: First Women’s World Cup in China

1991 First Women's World CupThe first men’s World Cup was played in Uruguay in 1930 but the inaugural women’s FIFA World Cup was not until much later. In fact, it was first played as recently as 1991, with China as the host nation. It took place in November, with four cities used and the final staged in Guangzhou.

12 nations took part in the finals but it was Norway and the US that made it all the way to the showpiece fixture. USA came out on top to win the first women’s World Cup, prevailing 2-1 in front of more than 60,000 fans.

1995: Sweden Hosts Low-Key World Cup

1995 Women's World CupFour years on and the tournament moved to Sweden and again 12 nations came to the finals. However, this was less well-attended, with a total live audience of just 112,000 – less than double the number that had watched the final alone four years earlier.

Norway again made the final but this time won, seeing off Germany 2-0. The US had to settle for third this time around, with China fourth. England were second in Group B behind eventual winners Norway but were easily beaten 3-0 in the quarters by Germany.

1999 & 2003: USA Hosts Successive World Cups

Women's World Cups hosted by the USA in 1999 and 2003

Powerhouses of the women’s game the USA hosted the next two editions of the World Cup. In 1999 more than 90,000 fans watched the hosts edge out China on penalties after a dour final at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.

Four years on the Home Depot Center in Carson City did the honours and this time around it was Germany and Sweden who made it through to the big game. The Germans won 2-1 thanks to a golden goal.

2007: Germany Defends Title in China

2007 FIFA World Cup logoIn 2007, Germany made it back-to-back World Cups as the big tournament again headed east to China. Shanghai was the host city for the final this time, with Germany getting the better of Brazil in the final, winning 2-0 to become the first team to defend their crown.

2011: Germans Unable to Complete Home-Soil Hat-Trick

2011 FIFA World Cup logoIn 2011 Germany hosted the Women’s World Cup for the first, and thus far only time. 16 teams took part as the nation welcomed the world, with nine different cities used and the final taking place in Berlin. Things began brightly for the hosts, as they won their three group games with relative ease. However, they were surprisingly beaten by Japan in the quarters, losing 1-0 after extra time.

That huge win gave Japan real belief and they were able to beat Sweden 3-1 in the semis to book their final place. USA awaited, with the States priced as the big favourites, but after the game ended 1-1 after 90 minutes, then 2-2 after 120, Japan upset the odds by winning on penalties to claim their first (and currently only) World Cup.

2015: US Gains Revenge in Canada

2015 FIFA World Cup logoThe 2015 final was a repeat of the 2011 one, with Japan and USA again seeing off all the rest to make it to the decisive match. This time around it was the serial champions, USA, who got their hands on the trophy. In front of more than 53,000 fans in Vancouver, the almost-home-team battered their opponents 5-2, the highest-scoring World Cup final in history. This tournament also set a new record for total attendance, with 1.35m fans watching across the tournament’s 52 games.

2019: World Cup Heads to France

2019 FIFA World Cup logoThe 2019 tournament saw another new host but there was no change in terms of who took the glory, as the US won the World Cup for the fourth time. The final was held near Lyon, with Lyon (Olympique Lyonnais Féminin, to use their full name) one of the strongest teams in European women’s football. Nearly 58,000 watched the final, which the States won 2-0 against the Netherlands.

2023: Down Under in Australia & New Zealand

2023 FIFA World Cup logoThe 2023 World Cup saw two new finalists, with Spain and England facing off. Spain won 1-0 in a game that is sadly now remembered for a post-match kiss. They were deserving winners and managed to put aside a lot of pre-tournament controversy to dominate England in the final.

This World Cup was the first to be co-hosted, with Australia and New Zealand both hosting matches. The final took place in Sydney, the 75,784 fans that watched on part of a total tournament attendance of nearly 2m, smashing the previous high. Brazil, hosts in 2027, have a lot to live up to!

Women’s World Cup: Key Facts

US vs Canada 2015 World Cup
US vs Canada 2015 World Cup (Credit IQRemix via Flickr)

In summary, when it comes to which nations have hosted the Women’s World Cup, we can say that:

  • China were the first host
  • China and the USA are the only nations to have hosted the World Cup more than once
  • Australia and NZ are the only nations to have co-hosted the tournament
  • Sweden, Germany, Canada and France have all done the honours once
  • Brazil will host in 2027