The biggest FIFA Women’s World Cup will finally get underway today, with New Zealand hosting Norway at Eden Park.
The ninth edition will be co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand, and will feature 32 nations for the first time, including the defending world champions, the United States. It is the first Women’s World Cup to be co-hosted by two countries.
Co-hosts of the Women’s World Cup Australia Women will launch their campaign in front of their own supporters in Sydney today, when they face Ireland Women.
According to FIFA, more than 1.3 million tickets have been purchased in advance for the 64 matches at 10 venues across nine cities, making it the most-watched Women’s World Cup ever.
The organisers aim for a record two billion television viewers for the 2023 edition, which would more than double the audience for the 2019 World Cup in France.
Along with the Republic of Ireland, seven other countries are making their World Cup debuts: Vietnam, Zambia, Haiti, Morocco, Panama, the Philippines, and Portugal.
While the United States is chasing a fifth world title, Zambia is ranked 77th and the tournament’s lowest-ranked team.
There are 736 players at this World Cup, which has 32 teams, up from 24 in 2019 and 16 as recently as 2011.
Marta (Brazil), Onome Ebi (Nigeria), and Christine Sinclair (Canada) are all returning to the tournament for the sixth time.
Ebi, who turned 40 in May, is the oldest player in Australia and New Zealand.
But she still trails Brazil’s Formiga, who set the record for the oldest player in the competition in 2019 at 41 years and 112 days.
On August 20, the final will be held at Stadium Australia.