The 2023 Women’s World Cup is near. It begins July 20 in Australia and New Zealand. And when it does, with 32 teams contesting 64 games, it will become the grandest women’s sporting event in modern history. It will be cold, and inconvenient for U.S. viewers because of the time difference; but it will be a spectacle and a new benchmark for gender equity in soccer.
Here’s everything you need to know about it.
When is the 2023 Women’s World Cup?
The 2023 Women’s World Cup begins July 20, with two openers, one each in New Zealand and Australia.
The tournament then lasts an entire month. The final is Aug. 20.
Where is the 2023 Women’s World Cup?
The World Cup’s 64 matches will be split between five Australian cities and four in New Zealand. The two Oceania countries, which are separated by 1,300 miles of Tasman Sea, will become the first co-hosts of the Women’s World Cup — and the first hosts in the Southern Hemisphere.
Ten stadiums will stage matches, with capacities ranging from roughly 14,000 in Perth to 70,000 at Sydney’s Olympic Stadium (now known as Stadium Australia), the site of the final.
The U.S. team — colloquially known as the USWNT — will play a majority of its games in Auckland and Wellington, New Zealand’s largest city and capital, respectively.
What time are games? And what’s the time difference?
The 2023 World Cup’s biggest inconvenience will be the time differences. Nine host cities are spread across four distinct time zones, which are anywhere between 12 and 16 hours ahead of U.S. Eastern Time (and therefore up to 19 hours ahead of Pacific Time).
FIFA’s schedulers have helped mitigate the impact. The U.S. will play its first two games at 1 p.m. in New Zealand, which is 9 p.m. ET and 6 p.m. PT the night before. (Its first two knockout matches could also be in U.S. prime time.)
But East Coast diehards will have to become night owls. The USWNT’s third game is at 3 a.m. ET. Of the 64 total matches, 54 kick off between 12:30 a.m. and 7 a.m ET. Half of the elimination games start between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m. ET.
West Coasters can work backward — a 19-hour difference equates to five hours minus a day — but even then, fandom will require body-clock adjustments. The World Cup final, for example, is at 6 a.m. ET, 3 a.m. PT.
Yahoo’s schedule will convert kickoff times to wherever in the world you may be, so keep that handy. And if you’re working off the official schedule, which lists local times, World Time Buddy is your friend.
How to watch on TV, mobile and online streaming
As has been the case since 2015, Fox has the English-language broadcast rights in the United States. Telemundo has the Spanish-language rights. Both, along with their affiliates, will show each of the 64 games live.
Fox plans to put 29 of the 64 — including all of the quarterfinals, semifinals and final — on its flagship, over-the-air network, with the rest on Fox Sports 1. Its entire TV schedule is here.
When are the U.S. games, and who’s in their group?
October’s World Cup draw was neither cruel nor exceedingly kind to the USWNT. The Americans are, of course, heavily favored to advance from Group E; their first and third foes, Vietnam and Portugal, will be overmatched. But they’ll have to top the Netherlands, their opponent in the 2019 final, to win the group — and, by extension, a favorable knockout-round path.
Here’s the USWNT’s schedule:
• Friday, July 21 vs. Vietnam in Auckland (9 p.m. ET, Fox)
• Wednesday, July 26 vs. Netherlands in Wellington (9 p.m. ET, Fox)
• Tuesday, Aug. 1 vs. Portugal in Auckland (3 a.m. ET, Fox)
If the U.S. wins the group, its semifinal path goes:
• Saturday, Aug. 5 vs. Group G runner-up in Sydney (10 p.m. ET, Fox)
• Thursday, Aug. 10 vs. 1A/2C in Wellington (9 p.m. ET, Fox)
If the U.S. finishes second, its semifinal path goes:
• Sunday, Aug. 6 vs. Group G winner in Melbourne (5 a.m. ET, Fox)
• Friday, Aug. 11 vs. 1C/2A in Auckland (3:30 a.m. ET, Fox)
The semifinal and final would be:
• Tuesday, Aug. 15 in Auckland (4 a.m. ET, Fox)
• Sunday, Aug. 20 in Sydney (3:30 a.m. ET, Fox)
And of course, if the U.S. finishes third or fourth, it will be eliminated. But it has never failed to reach the semis.
Will the U.S. win again? Who are the betting favorites?
The U.S. has won back-to-back titles. No country, though, has ever three-peated, and a now-familiar narrative is truer than ever: the world has caught up with American women’s soccer. The best club teams are in Europe. And there are almost a dozen national teams that can, on their best day, match the USWNT.
The contenders (and their BetMGM odds to win it all) are, in order:
1. U.S. (+225)
2. England (+300)
3. Spain (+600)
4. Germany (+700)
5. France (+900)
6. Australia (+1000)
7. Sweden (+1800)
8. Netherlands (+2500)
9. Japan (+2800)
10. Brazil (+2800)
11. Canada (+4000)
The depth of the field is illustrated by No. 11: Canada is the reigning Olympic champion.
The USWNT’s status as the betting favorite is largely based on its historical supremacy, not on recent performance. It has struggled over the past 10 months, and lost three straight games (to England, Spain and Germany) last fall for the first time since 1993.
Who’s on the U.S. roster?
When it’s revealed in mid-late June, the U.S. roster will likely include some familiar names: Alex Morgan, Becky Sauerbrunn, Rose Lavelle, Lindsey Horan, Crystal Dunn, Megan Rapinoe and probably Julie Ertz, among others.
It’ll also feature a new generation of stars, headlined by two wingers, Sophia Smith and Trinity Rodman, and a wise-beyond-her-years defender, Naomi Girma.
Which countries will debut at the Women’s World Cup?
There are eight first-time qualifiers from four different continents: Morocco and Zambia, Panama and Haiti, Vietnam and the Philippines, and Portugal and Ireland.
Many were aided by the tournament’s expansion from 24 teams to 32 — which will produce some blowouts but accelerate the long-term growth of women’s soccer.
What’s new at this Women’s World Cup?
Beyond the expansion to 32 teams, FIFA — soccer’s global governing body and the tournament’s organizer — has upped its investment in the Women’s World Cup. For decades, the tournament was chronically under-promoted and under-supported compared to its men’s equivalent. But under a new operational model, FIFA has budgeted $435 million to put on the 2023 event.
Among the improvements will be dedicated base camps for all 32 teams — the norm on the men’s side, but a first on the women’s — and player accommodations that FIFA says are on par with what the men get. But of course, the experiences won’t be entirely identical.
Did FIFA equalize prize money?
No, not yet. But it began to close the gap, from $400 million-$30 million at the 2018 and 2019 World Cups to $440 million-$110 million this time around. And FIFA president Gianni Infantino boldly announced in March that his “ambition” and “objective” is to have equal prize money at the 2026 and 2027 World Cups.
Is the USWNT still fighting for equal pay?
No! Or at least not for themselves, anyway.
After a decades-long fight, in May of 2022, the USWNT players and their USMNT counterparts signed landmark collective bargaining agreements with U.S. Soccer that equalized everything from ticket revenue shares to World Cup bonuses. Here are the details. And here’s how they hashed out the deal.
But U.S. women are still lending their voice to a broader, worldwide fight that their Canadian peers have taken up.
What other countries are fighting for equity?
Back in February, with the World Cup five months away, three contenders were effectively at war with their federations.
In France, multiple players resigned from the national team in an effort to oust their unpopular coach, and won. Corinne Diacre was fired. Hervé Renard, who engineered Saudi Arabia’s upset of Argentina at the 2022 World Cup, has replaced her in charge of Les Bleues.
In Spain, on the other hand, 15 players resigned in an effort to either oust their unpopular coach or push for better working conditions, and lost. Jorge Vilda remains their boss. Some of “Las 15,” as they’re now known, will end their self-imposed exile for the World Cup, but others will skip it.
Meanwhile, in Canada, the Olympic gold medalists threatened to strike after their federation cut their funding and prolonged a pay dispute. Their protests led to government hearings and the resignation of the federation’s president. It was a mess. And as of May, it still is a mess.
Those are just three examples. Others exist around the globe. The USWNT’s CBA remains one of one. The fight for equity in soccer is very, very far from finished.
What are the other main controversies?
Well, with kickoff two months away, FIFA still hadn’t signed TV deals in Europe’s five biggest markets. Infantino threatened a blackout if broadcasters’ offers didn’t improve. That would certainly qualify as a controversy.
Another hot topic, albeit not quite a controversy, is the rash of knee injuries that have sidelined some of the game’s biggest stars. (We at Yahoo Sports will have more on that in July.)
I’ve heard about a lot of injuries. Who’s injured?
In the U.S., rising star Catarina Macario was felled by the ACL epidemic. And Mallory Swanson (née Pugh) tore her patellar tendon in April. Both will miss the World Cup.
Alexia Putellas and Beth Mead, the top two players on The Guardian’s latest Top 100 list, are also both recovering from ACL injuries. Putellas is back, and should be in New Zealand; but Mead probably won’t be.
Holland’s Vivianne Miedema and France’s Marie-Antoinette Katoto, Nos. 6 and 11 in those Guardian rankings, are also out with ACL tears. So are England’s Leah Williamson (No. 15) and France’s Delphine Cascarino (No. 32). The list is alarmingly long. A hypothetical starting 11 of injured stars would probably be a World Cup favorite.
Who are the best non-American players?
Putellas has swept women’s soccer’s three most prestigious individual awards each of the past two years (despite her injury).
Sam Kerr has been the world’s most consistent striker for half a decade now, She’ll be the face of an Australian team in a brighter-than-ever spotlight on home soil.
And if you want to sound smart, talk up 21-year-old German Lena Oberdorf, who could be the game’s premier defensive midfielder for a decade to come.
When, and where, is the next Women’s World Cup?
In 2027, but where? We don’t know yet. FIFA’s 211 member associations will vote at their annual congress next year.
The U.S. and Mexico are bidding to co-host the tournament, one summer after they (along with Canada) host the 2026 men’s World Cup. But they have three competitors: Brazil; South Africa; and a joint bid from Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands.