The first Women’s World Cup was played in 1991, with the USA winning the title.
Twenty-four teams are set to compete in the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, which kicks off Friday, June 7 in France. The United States looks to bounce back from their early Olympic defeat back in 2016 and defend their World Cup title beginning with a group stage match against Thailand on June 11.
The United States, France, England and Germany are among the top contenders to take home the sport’s most coveted trophy. Before host France takes on South Korea in the opening match, let’s take a look back at the event’s past champions dating back to 1991.
World Cup Titles
United States – 3
Germany – 2
Japan – 1
Norway – 1
World Cup Final History
China 1991: United States def. Norway 2-1
Michelle Akers-Stahl scored two goals in a victory over Norway, earning the United States the inaugural Women’s World Cup title. The United States went undefeated in the tournament putscoring opponents 23-4. The number of competitors has doubled since the first tournament which saw only 12 teams take the field. Listen to SI’s podcast Throwback: The Story of the First Women’s World Cup for more on the 1991 competition.
Sweden 1995: Norway def. Germany 2-0
Hege Riise and Marianne Pettersen scored a goal a piece in Norway’s first and only Women’s World Cup title. Norway defeated Denmark and the United States in the knockout stage en route to the final. The second Women’s World Cup marked Canada, Australia and England’s debuts in the tournament.
United States 1999: United States def. China 0-0 (5-4 PKs)
The host team claimed its second Women’s World Cup championship after two scoreless overtime periods in 100 degree heat. Carla Overbeck, Joy Fawcett, Kristine Lilly Heavey, Mia Hamm and Brandi Chastain each converted their penalty opportunities to win the tournament. The over 90,000 fans present for the match remains the largest crowd at a women’s sporting event. Chastain’s celebration of the final goal later appeared on the cover of SI and remains a definining image of female athletic achievement.
United States 2003: Germany def. Sweden 2-1 (ET)
Nia Künzer netted the golden goal for Germany in the 98th minute of the fourth Women’s World Cup. Although Sweden scored first Germany’s Maren Meinert was able to net a goal in the 46th minute to send the game into extra time. The match marked the first and only time a Women’s World Cup final has been decided by golden goal.
China 2007: Germany def. Brazil 2-0
Germany defended its 2003 title with goals from Birgit Prinz and Simone Laudehr in the 2007 final. Dominate throughout the entire tournament, the German squad did not concede a single goal. Brazil’s Marta Vieira da Silva was awarded the Golden Ball for the tournment’s best player and the Golden Boot for the tournment’s top goal scorer.
Germany 2011: Japan def. United States 2-2 (3-1 PKs)
Japan became the first Asian team to win a Woman’s World Cup after defeating the United States in a penalty shootout. Prior to the 2011 final Japan was 0-2 in the Women’s World Cup against the Americans. Japan reached the final after defeated the two-tome defending champions Germany in the quaterfinals 1-0. Aya Miyama and Homare Sawa scored for the Japanese in regulation while Miyama, Mizuho Sakaguchi and Saki Kumagai converted on penalty kicks.
Canada 2015: United States def. Japan 5-2
The United States scored five goals, four of which came in the first 16 minutes of play, against the defending champions to secure their third Women’s World Cup victory. Carli Lloyd scored three goals for the Americans, including the fastest first goal in a Women’s World Cup final (in the third minute) and the fastest hat trick in World Cup history. Lauren Holiday and Tobin Heath each found the back of the net for Jill Ellis’s squad. The seven combined tallies set the record for most goals scored in a Women’s World Cup final and matched that of a Men’s World Cup final which was set at the 1958 5-2 victory of Brazil over Sweden. United States goalkeeper Hope Solo earned the Golden Glove as the tournament’s top keeper.