FIFA Women's World Cup
This will be the moment when everything changed for the Women's World Cup
FIFA Women's World Cup

This will be the moment when everything changed for the Women's World Cup

Updated Aug. 21, 2023 12:09 a.m. ET

Right now, it seems like this Women's World Cup will be remembered for things like these.

Like Olga Carmona's winning goal and triumphant celebration as Spain clinched the final on Sunday. And England's Lionesses and their bold surge through to the championship game. And Sam Kerr's semifinal wondergoal as Australia's brave challenge finally faltered. And, yep, the way the United States crumbled and capitulated and failed to defend its title.

But soccer time beats to its own rhythm and as the game's history moves onward, the events of the past month will be viewed in a different way, broader than individual moments – yet crucial in the overall context of where women's soccer sits on the sporting spectrum.

This was the best Women's World Cup ever, by a considerable distance. The tournament came of age in Australia and New Zealand over the past month, with a series of forward steps and, now, a powerful dose of momentum.


This is a golden time in the sport, a period where things are improving at a rapid pace, bringing all the surprises and delights that such shakeups entail.

"We all talked about that this was going to be the biggest and best World Cup, and it was," USA legend Carli Lloyd said on the FOX broadcast. "People were worried there was going to be large scorelines, and there wasn't. The debutants showed up and inspired us, and we need to continue to support women's football."

'They did incredibly well' - Kate Gill on the lasting legacy of the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup

[Spain wins its first Women's World Cup, England's drought continues]

It wasn't like even the recent past, with so many growing pains now grown out of. As Lloyd said, no more drastically lopsided victories, 13-0 and the like, with the lesser lights able to compete, even with the field having been expanded to 32 nations.

No more being able to fill in half the knockout bracket before the tournament had even started. Germany and Brazil and Olympic champion Canada all got bounced early. Morocco and the Philippines and Jamaica and Nigeria and South Africa all had major moments of pride. Welcome to unpredictability, the best thing any World Cup has to offer.

On that thread, no more dominance from a handful of teams. No more established order with not only the United States flopping but other bluebloods too.

Things are different now, and they are better because of it.

It was an enjoyable tournament in no shortage of ways. Having host nations that buy in without reservation is a must, and though neither Australia nor New Zealand has a particularly long or prestigious soccer past, their respective public went in big.

The Aussies, in particular, who will long wonder what might have been different if not for Kerr's calf injury pre-tournament, laid out the welcome mat and turned up in vast numbers.

[For Sam Kerr and Australia, this World Cup was a triumph no matter what]

The USA was, frankly, mightily poor and the drama of the penalty shootout defeat to Sweden merely obscured the fact that the four-time winner was lucky not to be eliminated by Portugal in the group stage.

The outcome was a challenging change for an American audience that had gotten used to nonstop success but was a welcome development for everyone else, whose fans got to see their teams fight for a historic moment of their own after the champion floundered.

Variety is good news for a sport that is the most global of all games, and it was uplifting to see new faces get their moment in the sun.

Talking of sun, don't expect what went down here to be an outlier. It is the start of a new dawn.

Spain's tactical and systematic excellence showed that there is a shift in thinking behind the women's game. Possession is gold dust now, and if you have the personnel and structure to make it work, it can make you untouchable.

[Spain's World Cup victory will usher in a new blueprint for women's soccer]

That process will only get more developed over the next four years, and beyond.

The competition will only get the fiercer, the difficulty level to actually win the darn thing tougher, the number of competitive teams wider and the entertainment level grander.

It took 32 years and eight prior Women's World Cup to lay the foundation for this one. The future is exciting, but it isn't just something to look ahead to.

From what we saw, it is here already.

The most unforgettable moments from the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup

Martin Rogers is a columnist for FOX Sports and the author of the FOX Sports Insider newsletter. Follow him on Twitter @MRogersFOX and subscribe to the daily newsletter.

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