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The History of the FIFA Women’s World Cup



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The History of the FIFA Women's World Cup

FIFA Women’s World Cup Timeline: 1991‒2019

The ninth edition of the FIFA Women’s World Cup that kicked off this summer in Australia and New Zealand is expected to break records.

For the first time, 32 teams are competing at the premier international event for women’s soccer, up from 24 teams in the two prior editions. And according to FIFA, the tournament is already on pace to become the most attended women’s sports event in history, with over a million tickets already sold.

Eight countries are making their debut in the tournament after qualifying for the first time:

  • 🇵🇭 Philippines
  • 🇮🇪 Ireland
  • 🇿🇲 Zambia
  • 🇭🇹 Haiti
  • 🇻🇳 Vietnam
  • 🇵🇹 Portugal
  • 🇵🇦 Panama
  • 🇲🇦 Morocco

How has the tournament grown?

This graphic created by JVDW Designs explores the timeline of this tournament, from its origins with only 12 teams in 1991 to expansions during the 21st century.

The Origins of Women’s Soccer

Though there are reports of women’s soccer matches as early as the 1700s, the sport started to grow in popularity in 1895 thanks to the British Ladies’ Football Club (BLFC), one of the first women’s soccer clubs.

Despite receiving no support from soccer associations in the UK, the club held its inaugural match in London and then went on tour. They received a lot of attention in the press, both due to the sport itself and debates in Victorian England over women’s rights.

First match british ladies by paget

After gaining in popularity over the next decades and even drawing bigger crowds than men’s matches, England’s governing soccer association retaliated by banning women’s soccer in 1921. The stated reason was that “the game of football is quite unsuitable for females and ought not to be encouraged.”

Other countries followed suit over time, sidelining women’s soccer from France to Brazil. It wasn’t until the success of the 1966 Men’s World Cup in England, which set records for attendance and was the first to be broadcast to other continents, that England and then other countries in Europe re-established women’s soccer due to increased interest.

The FIFA Women’s World Cup

After multiple international tournaments in the 1970s and 1980s, FIFA finally organized the inaugural FIFA Women’s World Cup in China in 1991.

At the outset, the athletes participating in the Women’s World Cup were not treated as professionals. In her 2019 book, sports journalist Caitlyn Murray details that uniforms were sometimes hand-me-downs from men’s teams, and accommodations during travel were far from luxurious. Notably, the tournament also lacked prize money until 2007.

In total, 35 different national teams have participated in at least one of the eight tournaments held through 2019. Here is the full list, with host countries noted in bold:

Country Women's World Cups Attended
🇺🇸 United States 1991, 1995,1999, 2003, 2007, 2011, 2015, 2019
🇸🇪 Sweden 1991, 1995, 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011, 2015, 2019
🇧🇷 Brazil 1991, 1995, 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011, 2015, 2019
🇳🇴 Norway 1991, 1995, 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011, 2015, 2019
🇩🇪 Germany1991, 1995, 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011, 2015, 2019
🇯🇵 Japan 1991, 1995, 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011, 2015, 2019
🇳🇬 Nigeria 1991, 1995, 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011, 2015, 2019
🇨🇳 China1991, 1995, 1999, 2003, 2007, 2015, 2019
🇨🇦 Canada1995, 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011, 2015, 2019
🇦🇺 Australia 1995, 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011, 2015, 2019
🇳🇿 New Zealand 1991, 2007, 2011, 2015, 2019
🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 England 1995, 2007, 2011, 2015, 2019
🇩🇰 Denmark 1991, 1995, 1999, 2007
🇰🇵 North Korea1999, 2003, 2007, 2011
🇫🇷 France 2003, 2011, 2015, 2019
🇮🇹 Italy 1991, 1999, 2019
🇲🇽 Mexico 1999, 2011, 2015
🇦🇷 Argentina2003, 2007, 2019
🇰🇷 South Korea 2003, 2015, 2019
🇷🇺 Russia1999, 2003
🇨🇴 Colombia 2011, 2015
🇨🇲 Cameroon2015, 2019
🇳🇱 Netherlands 2015, 2019
🇪🇸 Spain2015, 2019
🇹🇭 Thailand 2015, 2019
🇹🇼 Taiwan 1991
🇬🇶 Equatorial Guinea 2011
🇨🇷 Costa Rica 2015
🇨🇮 Côte d'Ivoire2015
🇪🇨 Ecuador 2015
🇨🇭 Switzerland 2015
🇨🇱 Chile 2019
🇯🇲 Jamaica2019
🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 Scotland 2019
🇿🇦 South Africa 2019

From the onset, the U.S. emerged as dominant forces in the women’s game. They won the inaugural official tournament in 1991 and are one of just seven countries that have qualified for each edition of the Women’s World Cup from 1991 to 2019.

In total, the American side has won four FIFA Women’s World Cups so far. Throughout the tournament’s history, they’ve never finished lower than third place.

🇺🇸 United States4
🇩🇪 Germany2
🇳🇴 Norway 1
🇯🇵 Japan1

The all-time leading World Cup goal scorer, however, comes from Brazil. Marta Vieira da Silva, or “Queen Marta,” etched her name in history by scoring an impressive 17 goals across five World Cups for Brazil, surpassing the men’s World Cup goalscoring record of 16 goals.

As the ninth edition unfolds, the tournament’s growth and global appeal continue to soar. With an even brighter future in the cards for women’s soccer, the question remains: who will come out on top in the 2023 Women’s World Cup?

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This article was published as a part of Visual Capitalist's Creator Program, which features data-driven visuals from some of our favorite Creators around the world.

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Ranked: The World’s Most Valuable Football Club Brands

Which clubs, aside from competing on the pitch, also compete as football brands? How much are the most valuable club brands worth?



An infographic ranking the most valuable football brands in the world, along with their worth.

Ranked: The World’s Most Valuable Football Club Brands

When the oldest national football competition—the FA Cup—was first played in 1872, the players didn’t get paid, clubs were local associations, and there were no such things as football brands.

Skip ahead a century and a half and many football clubs have comparable levels of global recognition to well-known consumer brands like Apple or Coca-Cola, while simultaneously commanding immense loyalty from fans from all walks of life.

These characteristics have immense financial worth. Today we find out which clubs, aside from competing on the pitch, also compete as football brands. Brand Finance, a brand valuation and strategy consultancy, has compiled a list of the world’s 50 most valuable football club brands.

ℹ️ Brand value refers to the present value of earnings specifically related to a football team’s brand reputation. This is separate and distinct from market value, or the value of an organization as a whole (i.e. what it would cost to buy a team)

Which Football Club Has the Most Valuable Brand?

Prized at $1.56 billion in 2023, Manchester City FC of England’s Premier League takes the top spot as the most valuable football brand.

The club’s brand value grew 13.5% in the last year, a testament to the club’s recent and sustained success on the domestic and international fronts. It has won the Premier league seven times since 2011, and in 2023 the club completed a historic “treble”—winning the Premier League, Champions League, and FA Cup, all in one season.

Here’s a look at the world’s top 50 most valued football club brands, listed in USD millions.

RankBrandCountryBrand Value
(USD millions)
Value Change
1Manchester City FC🇬🇧 UK$1,562+13.50%
2Real Madrid CF🇪🇸 Spain$1,513-14.40%
3FC Barcelona🇪🇸 Spain$1,425-7.20%
4Manchester United FC🇬🇧 UK$1,412-2.60%
5Liverpool FC🇬🇧 UK$1,411-4.40%
6Paris Saint-Germain🇫🇷 France$1,174-1.40%
7FC Bayern Munich🇩🇪 Germany$1,140-11.30%
8Arsenal FC🇬🇧 UK$940+0.02%
9Tottenham Hotspur FC🇬🇧 UK$931-8.00%
10Chelsea FC🇬🇧 UK$893-9.90%
11Juventus FC🇮🇹 Italy$655-19.90%
12Club Atletico de Madrid🇪🇸 Spain$570-15.10%
13Borussia Dortmund🇩🇪 Germany$562-6.30%
14FC Internazionale Milano🇮🇹 Italy$528-8.00%
15AC Milan🇮🇹 Italy$371+0.19%
16West Ham United FC🇬🇧 UK$320-6.40%
17Newcastle United FC🇬🇧 UK$259+0.17%
18SSC Napoli🇮🇹 Italy$249+0.18%
19RasenBallsport Leipzig🇩🇪 Germany$231-18.40%
20Aston Villa FC🇬🇧 UK$222+0.04%
21AS Roma🇮🇹 Italy$212+0.01%
22Eintracht Frankfurt🇩🇪 Germany$210-5.40%
23Everton FC🇬🇧 UK$205-13.60%
24Bayer 04 Leverkusen🇩🇪 Germany$202-8.00%
25Sevilla FC🇪🇸 Spain$196-5.10%
26Brighton &
Hove Albion FC
🇬🇧 UK$189-3.00%
27Leicester City🇬🇧 UK$187-40.70%
28Olympique De Marseille🇫🇷 France$179+0.07%
29Crystal Palace🇬🇧 UK$174-1.70%
30AFC Ajax🇳🇱 Netherlands$172-18.90%
31Olympique Lyonnais🇫🇷 France$166-6.90%
32Wolverhampton Wanderers FC🇬🇧 UK$166-29.80%
33Leeds United🇬🇧 UK$160-25.60%
34Real Betis🇪🇸 Spain$159+0.17%
35Borussia Monchengladbach🇩🇪 Germany$157-18.80%
36Villarreal CF🇪🇸 Spain$143-6.30%
37Real Sociedad🇪🇸 Spain$139N/A
38VfL Wolfsburg🇩🇪 Germany$128-34.90%
391.FC Koln🇩🇪 Germany$125-3.30%
40SC Freiburg🇩🇪 Germany$125N/A
41SL Benfica🇵🇹 Portugal$123+0.05%
42Celtic FC🇬🇧 UK$118-9.70%
43Brentford FC🇬🇧 UK$118N/A
44Athletic de Bilbao🇪🇸 Spain$117-23.50%
45SS Lazio SpA🇮🇹 Italy$116N/A
461.FC Union Berlin🇩🇪 Germany$112N/A
47Valencia CF🇪🇸 Spain$112-38.70%
48FC Porto🇵🇹 Portugal$105N/A
49Fulham FC🇬🇧 UK$104N/A
50CR Flamengo🇧🇷 Brazil$102-8.80%

Close on City’s heels, Spain’s Real Madrid CF brand is also valued slightly above $1.5 billion, but is down 14% in the last year. The club lost their hold on both their domestic league and European championship titles this season, contributing to their decrease in brand worth in 2023.

On the Catalonian side of Spain, FC Barcelona’s brand remains ranked in third place, valued at $1.4 billion. The two Spanish giants have a near duopoly over La Liga, Spain’s domestic league, with one of them having won the title 62 times in the 94 years since the league was founded.

The rivalry gained another edge in the 2000s, hosting one each of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo—two of the most-followed celebrities in the world and often regarded as some of the greatest players to play the game.

And while both Messi and Ronaldo left in the last five years, Barcelona and Real Madrid’s brands have stayed resilient. Both clubs have consistently ranked in the top five most valuable football club brands since 2013.

Four more club brands have been valued above $1 billion:

  • Manchester United FC, England, ($1.41 billion)
  • Liverpool FC, England ($1.41 billion)
  • Paris Saint-Germain, France ($1.17 billion)
  • FC Bayern Munich, Germany ($1.14 billion)

Countries with the Most Valuable Football Brands

From a regional perspective, the UK is home to the most high-worth football club brands (18), all of them in England with the sole exception of Scotland’s Celtic FC.

CountryClubsBrand Value
(USD millions)
🇬🇧 UK18$9,371
🇩🇪 Germany10$2,992
🇪🇸 Spain9$4,374
🇮🇹 Italy6$2,131
🇫🇷 France3$1,519
🇵🇹 Portugal2$228
🇳🇱 Netherlands1$172
🇧🇷 Brazil1$102

The UK is followed by Germany (10) and Spain (9) with the most high-valued brands. Together, the top three countries account for almost three quarters of the most valued football club brands in the world.

With an even broader-picture gaze, Europe is home to 49 of the 50 listed clubs, a testament to the strength of the European football market. The only non-European team to make the list was CR Flamengo from Brazil.

What’s in a Brand?

While the value of a football club brand is not the same as the club value itself, a strong brand can do wonders for a club’s financial performance, and eventual value.

Just look at Manchester United, which hasn’t quite regained its stellar performances on field since Sir Alex Ferguson left in 2013, but nevertheless continues to be a commercial juggernaut—it had the fourth highest jersey sales in 2021.

A similar story can be seen with Saudi Arabian club Al-Nassr when it signed Cristiano Ronaldo, which drove visits to its merchandise store up 300%.

With the new football season around the corner, it will be fascinating to see how the rankings of most valuable football brands change next year.

Where Does This Data Come From?

Source: Brand Finance’s 2023 Football 50 Report.
Data note: Some clubs were not ranked in the top 50 in 2022, leading to missing data for brand value and rank changes in the last year. These entires have been marked with an “N/A” where required.

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