The 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup kicks off on June 6 and 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 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.
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.
Another memorable moment took place during the 2007 semi-final between Brazil and the U.S., when 21-year-old Marta Vieira da Silva, commonly known simply as Marta, won the hearts and minds of Brazilians back home for scoring a spectacular goal that prompted legendary soccer player Pelé to call her, “Pelé in a skirt”.
In 2011, Japan’s women’s team became the first Asian team to win a FIFA World Cup in a final that was broadcast to 62.8 million people across 181 countries. The match also set the record for the most tweets-per-second, beating previous records set during the death of Osama bin Laden and Prince William and Kate’s wedding.
The year’s World Cup will take place across six venues around Canada — with matches being played in Vancouver, Montreal, Winnipeg, Edmonton, Ottawa and Moncton — and the U.S. team is favored to win their third title. Other strong contenders for the 2015 top prize are Germany, Japan and Brazil.
Eight new countries will be debuting this year, including Cameroon, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Ecuador, Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland and Thailand, all adding more skill and finesse to the already strong roster of players.
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