The 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup kicked off today, to mark the event Google is celebrating with soccer-themed Google Doodle. This year’s event is hosted by Canada, with 24 participating countries and $13.6 million in prize money going to the winning team (just 3% of what the winning men’s team earned at the World Cup in Brazil in 2014).
The inaugural Women’s World Cup was in China in 1991, sixty-one years after the men’s first FIFA World Cup tournament in 1930. The six World Cup tournaments have been won by four different national teams where the U.S. team took the trophy. Back then the World Cup only had a dozen participating countries, no prize money or sponsors, little media coverage and games lasted a mere 80 minutes. It was in 1995’s tournament in Sweden where the matches extended to 90 minutes, the standard length of a soccer match.
The current format of the tournament involves 24 teams competing for the title at venues within the host nation(s) over a period of about three weeks this phase is often called the World Cup Finals. A qualification phase, which currently takes place over the preceding three years, is used to determine which teams qualify for the tournament together with the host nation(s).
The FIFA Women’s World Cup is recognized as the most important international competition in women’s football and is played amongst women’s national football teams of the member states of FIFA, the sport’s global governing body.
Things picked up during the tournament’s 1999 edition in the U.S., which set a record at the time as the most attended women’s sporting event in history with more than 90,000 people attending the final. The competition, which expanded to 16 teams and had considerably more media coverage, was responsible for the iconic moment where U.S. player Brandi Chastain whipped her jersey off after scoring a decisive penalty shot against China.