The 2023 Women’s World Cup feels very familiar to fans used to watching the men’s competition. The year 2023 marks the first edition of the expanded format which features the most Women’s World Cup teams in the competition.
The format of the tournament exactly mirrors the one used by the men’s tournament from 1998 to 2022. Starting with the 2026 World Cup, that tournament is expanding to 48 teams.
The 32 teams in the Women’s World Cup are split into eight groups of four. At the end of the group stage, the top two teams from each group advances to the knockout round. The remaining 16 teams contest a fixed, four-round single-elimination bracket to decide the world champion.
This isn’t the first expansion of the number of teams in the Women’s World Cup. Initially in 1991, just 12 teams competed in the tournament. The year 1999 saw the field grow to 16 sides. Canada 2015 saw the introduction of the 24-team format. This was used just once more, in 2019, before the current format was introduced.
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2023 Women’s World Cup Teams
The 32 teams that qualified for the 2023 World Cup are listed below. Past champions are in italics.
United States (reigning champions)
New Zealand (co-hosts)
Republic of Ireland (debut)
The increased number of teams has allowed more nations to participate in the final tournament, including several making their debuts this year. The expanded format has not been without criticism, however. The gulf in quality between the top teams and the lower ranked sides has raised questions about the need to expand the field. And in 2015 and 2019, it did indeed produce a handful of lopsided results, like the USWNT’s 13-0 thrashing of Thailand.
But on the balance, games have been competitive and the expansion of teams has dovetailed nicely with the overall growth of the women’s game.
For the full 2023 tournament schedule, visit our Women’s World Cup TV Schedule page.
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