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1991 FIFA Women's World Cup

1991 FIFA Women's World Cup
1st FIFA World Championship for Women's Football for the M&Ms Cup
1991 FIFA Women's World Cup.jpg
Official logo
Tournament details
Host countryChina
Dates16–30 November
Teams12 (from 6 confederations)
Venue(s)6 (in 4 host cities)
Final positions
Champions United States (1st title)
Runners-up Norway
Third place Sweden
Fourth place Germany
Tournament statistics
Matches played26
Goals scored99 (3.81 per match)
Attendance510,000 (19,615 per match)
Top scorer(s)United States Michelle Akers-Stahl
(10 goals)
Best player(s)United States Carin Jennings

The 1991 FIFA Women's World Cup was the inaugural FIFA Women's World Cup, the world championship for women's national association football teams.[1][2] It took place in Guangdong, China from 16 to 30 November 1991. FIFA, football's international governing body selected China as host nation as Guangdong had hosted a prototype world championship three years earlier, the 1988 FIFA Women's Invitation Tournament. Matches were played in the state capital, Guangzhou, as well as in Foshan, Jiangmen and Zhongshan. The competition was sponsored by Mars, Incorporated. With FIFA still reluctant to bestow their "World Cup" brand, the tournament was officially known as the 1st FIFA World Championship for Women's Football for the M&M's Cup.[3]

It was won by the United States,[4] whose captain April Heinrichs formed a forward line dubbed the "triple–edged sword" with Carin Jennings and Michelle Akers-Stahl. Jennings was named player of the tournament while Akers-Stahl's ten goals won the Golden Shoe.[5] The United States beat Norway 2–1 in the final in front of a crowd of 65,000 people at Guangzhou's Tianhe Stadium.[6] Total attendance was 510,000, an average per match of 19,615. In the opening match at the same stadium, Norway had been defeated 4–0 by hosts China. Chinese defender Ma Li scored the first goal in Women's World Cup history, while goalkeeper Zhong Honglian, also of China, posted the first official "clean sheet" in the tournament.

The 12 qualified teams were divided into three groups of four (A to C). The top two teams and the two best third-place finishers from the three groups advanced to the knockout round of eight teams.


Yuexiu, Guangzhou Tianhe, Guangzhou Panyu, Guangzhou
Guangdong Provincial Stadium Tianhe Stadium Ying Tung Stadium
Capacity: 25,000 Capacity: 60,000 Capacity: 15,000
Guangdong Provincial People's Stadium.jpg Tianhe Stadium.jpg
Foshan Jiangmen Zhongshan
New Plaza Stadium Jiangmen Stadium Zhongshan Stadium
Capacity: 14,000 Capacity: 13,000 Capacity: 12,000
Zhongshan Sports Center Stadium -02.jpg


Twelve teams qualified for the 1991 FIFA Women's World Cup final tournament. Each of the six FIFA confederations had at least one representative.


For a list of the squads that disputed the final tournament, see 1991 FIFA Women's World Cup squads.

Match officials

For the first time in FIFA competition, six female officials were included. All functioned as assistant referees, except for Cláudia Vasconcelos who took charge of the third place play–off; becoming the first woman to referee a match sanctioned by FIFA.[7][8]

Tournament review

FIFA's technical report demonstrates that, after the tournament, players and officials were undecided whether to persist with 80 minute matches, or to change to 90 minutes in line with men's football. Opinion was also divided about the suitability of using a size five football. Some teams reported difficulty in sourcing good quality equipment in the correct size.[9]

The tournament was considered a major success in the quality of play and attendances at the games. FIFA president João Havelange wrote that:[10]

The perceived success of the tournament was a significant factor in the subsequent inclusion of women's football in the 1996 Summer Olympics.[11] Sue Lopez reported that although attendances were very high, many tickets were complimentary. The "novelty factor" of women from foreign lands playing football also encouraged local people to attend.[12]

Group stage

Countries and result

Group A

Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
 China PR (H) 3 2 1 0 10 3 7 5
 Norway 3 2 0 1 6 5 1 4
 Denmark 3 1 1 1 6 4 2 3
 New Zealand 3 0 0 3 1 11 −10 0

(H): Host.

Group B

Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
 United States 3 3 0 0 11 2 9 6
 Sweden 3 2 0 1 12 3 9 4
 Brazil 3 1 0 2 1 7 −6 2
 Japan 3 0 0 3 0 12 −12 0

Group C

Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
 Germany 3 3 0 0 9 0 9 6
 Italy 3 2 0 1 6 2 4 4
Former Chinese Taipei Football Flag.svg Chinese Taipei 3 1 0 2 2 8 −6 2
 Nigeria 3 0 0 3 0 7 −7 0

Ranking of third-placed teams

Knockout stage


24 November — Foshan
 United States 7
27 November — Guangzhou
Former Chinese Taipei Football Flag.svg Chinese Taipei 0
 United States 5
24 November — Zhongshan
 Germany 2
 Germany 2
30 November — Guangzhou
 Denmark 1
 United States 2
24 November — Guangzhou
 Norway 1
 China PR 0
27 November — Panyu
 Sweden 1
 Sweden 1
24 November — Jiangmen
 Norway 4 Third place
 Norway 3
29 November — Guangzhou
 Italy 2
 Sweden 4
 Germany 0



Third place play-off



The following awards were given for the tournament:[13]

Golden Ball Silver Ball Bronze Ball
United States Carin Jennings United States Michelle Akers Norway Linda Medalen
Golden Shoe Silver Shoe Bronze Shoe
United States Michelle Akers Germany Heidi Mohr Norway Linda Medalen
United States Carin Jennings
10 goals 7 goals 6 goals
FIFA Fair Play Award

Goal scorers

Michelle Akers-Stahl of the United States won the Golden Shoe award for scoring ten goals. In total, 99 goals were scored from 45 different players with two of them credited as own goals.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "Raising Their Game: An introduction". YouTube. Retrieved 21 August 2012.
  2. ^ "Raising Their Game: Passing the test". YouTube. 5 June 2012. Retrieved 21 August 2012.
  3. ^ Mattei, Al. "WUSA opening a feast for the eyes – and ears". Retrieved 21 April 2013.
  4. ^ Ciapala, Derek (18 June 2012). "History of the FIFA Women's World Cup, 1991–present – World Soccer – Yahoo! Sports". Retrieved 1 August 2012.
  5. ^ "CNN/SI – Women's World Cup – Women's World Cup History – Thursday February 11, 1999 06:04 PM". Retrieved 1 August 2012.
  6. ^ "Raising Their Game: Blazing the way in 1991". YouTube. 12 June 2012. Retrieved 21 August 2012.
  7. ^ Lopez 1997, p. 195
  8. ^ "FIFA Women's World Cup – China PR 1991". FIFA. Archived from the original on 11 March 2013. Retrieved 21 April 2013. In keeping with the true spirit of the celebration, six female referees or assistant referees were appointed among match officials for the first time in FIFA history. Claudia de Vasconcelos of Brazil, the referee for the 3rd-place match, became the first woman to officiate at this level for FIFA.
  9. ^ "FIFA Women's World Cup China '91 – Technical Report & Statistics" (PDF). FIFA. Retrieved 20 April 2013.
  10. ^ Lopez 1997, p. 173
  11. ^ Lopez 1997, p. 175
  12. ^ Lopez 1997, p. 207
  13. ^ Awards 1991


  • Lisi, Clemente Angelo (2010). The U.S. Women's Soccer Team: An American Success Story. Plymouth, England: Scarecrow Press. ISBN 0810874156.
  • Lopez, Sue (1997). Women on the Ball: A Guide to Women's Football. London, England: Scarlet Press. ISBN 1857270169.

External links