The probability that Scotland is going to win the 2019 Women’s World Cup isn’t very high. But it is a possibility.
Scotland will play in the Women’s World Cup for the first time when they take the field for their opening match. And that game will open up a possibility that has never existed for the program before.
It is almost silly to say but you can’t win a World Cup unless you qualify for it. Which makes qualifying itself an important part of the process. Only 23 teams win their fights for a spot in the tournament (along with the host). And those few newcomers who manage it will be joining a club that’s mostly filled with repeat players.
34 teams have qualified for the Women’s World Cup in the last 27 years. 10 of those countries, including Scotland, Chile, and Jamaica from this round of qualifying, have only made it once. And when FIFA is going to 48 teams for the Men’s World Cup in 2026, to increase the chance for countries like India and their billion strong population to add new viewers, I have to wonder why the Women’s World Cup has just 24 teams.
As of right now the break down for the Women’s World Cup is as follows:
UEFA: 8 slots
AFC: 5 slots
CAF: 3 slots
CONCACAF: 3 slots
CONMEBOL: 2 slots
OFC: 1 slot
CONCACAF–CONMEBOL play-off: 1 slot
Host Nation: 1 slot
This is a much needed boost from the original 12 countries that started in 1991, or the 16 from 1999 until 2011, but it frankly just isn’t good enough anymore.
You can’t ensure that every country who ‘should’ make it is able to qualify. There will always be some of those. But there are more and more countries in the world of women’s soccer that deserve a chance to play for a World Cup. And right now there just aren’t the spots for them.
Of the four teams that made the UEFA play offs – Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, and Denmark – only one team will be able to head to France in 2019. There will be no Mexico or Costa Rico from CONCACAF.
So how would I get the women’s side to 32 teams for the 2023 Women’s World Cup? Glad you asked.
UEFA: 12 slots
AFC: 6 slots
CAF: 4 slots
CONCACAF: 4 slots
CONMEBOL: 3 slots
OFC: 1 slot
OFC–CONMEBOL play-off: 1 slot
Host Nation: 1 slot
It isn’t a major tweak to the make up of the tournament from a confederation stand point but it would give more chances to get more Scotlands or Chiles in the future. More first time teams and more of a chance to get those cinderella runs that sports fans all over the world love.
I would shifted to a OFC–CONMEBOL play off instead of the current CONCACAF–CONMEBOL playoff instead of giving OFC a second automatic slot. It gives teams not named New Zealand a shot to get to a Women’s World Cup.
FIFA has often been negligent in it’s duty to grow women’s soccer in a meaningful way. Between the amount of prize money to turf fields to just a general ambivalence to the women’s side of the sport in general. But growing the tournament? Giving teams the possibility of the chance to put their country on their backs? That could go a long way to making a change for the better.
I am excited to watch Scotland play in France. The idea that Kim Little, Rachel Corsie, Jane Ross and company get to show the world what they can do is something I wouldn’t have bet on being possible four years ago. Now they get to show the world what they can do with the possibility of a chance to win. Other countries should get the same chance.