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ROADMAP TO THE FIFA WOMEN'S WORLD CUP

FIFA Women's World Rankings

The road to the FIFA Women's World Cup begins with the each country establishing their women's national teams ("WNT").   The United States Women's National Soccer Team is selected and operated by the United States Soccer Federation.  Separately there beginning in 2010 there is the FIFA Women's CLUB World Cup which is for the top club teams in the world, not National Teams.

The path to being selected to the USSF WNT team begins in the early years.  Youth players competing in any of the USSF affiliated organizations such as USYSA and US Club, amongst others, tryout for recognition teams such as the Olympic Development Program ("ODP") as early as age 12 or 13.  Once identified in these programs they compete to move up the ranks in their states region; and eventually the finest players are selected to represent their age groups national team, as early as U14.  From there various USSF coaches recommend players for select tryouts.  Players are competing for spots on these teams throughout their youth including high school, college and beyond. 

The WNT may consist of players from college, amateur, semi-pro and professional teams.  Professional teams winning their league title have no consideration in WNT selections.  Only players may end up being selected by the WNT head coach, never a team. 

All WNT's play in various international tournaments and games ("friendlies") against other worldwide WNT's teams in preparation for the only FIFA Women's World Cup qualifying tournament within their particular region .  For the US WNT this region is CONCACAF, The Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football.  

International tournaments include Algarve Cup, Pan American Games, Peace Queen Cup

The CONCACAF Women’s Gold Cup is the preeminent competition for women’s national teams in North American and it crowns the Confederation’s champion. The USA won the first CONCACAF championship in 1991. The Gold Cup was added in 2000. The competition takes place in November and includes six national teams. The CONCACAF winner and runner-up qualify to compete in the FIFA Women’s World Cup. The third-place finisher from the CONCACAF faces the winner of the Asian Football Confederation in a home-and-away playoff for the final berth to the FIFA tournament. The championship was instituted to determine the teams that would qualify for the first FIFA Women's World Cup in 1991. The host of the FIFA World Cup automatically qualifies for the tournament regardless of how they finish in any conference play.

The FIFA Women's World Cup is recognized as the most important International competition in women's football and is played amongst women's national football teams of the member states of FIFA, the sport's global governing body. Contested every four years, the first Women's World Cup tournament, named the Women's World Championship, was held in 1991, sixty-one years after the men's first FIFA World Cup tournament in 1930. The current format has sixteen teams competing every four years for the winner's trophy

The participants qualify through the regional football confederations of Oceania (OFC), Europe (UEFA), North America, Central America and the Caribbean (CONCACAF), South America (CONMEBOL), Asia (AFC) and Africa (CAF).

The competition takes place over the course of three weeks. In the group stage, 16 teams seeded into four groups (A,B,C, and D) compete against each other in a round-robin tournament. In the knockout phase, the top two teams from each group advance to the quarterfinals, a single-elimination tournament in which teams play each other in one-off matches, with extra time and penalty shootouts used to decide the winner if necessary. The winner of Group A plays the runner-up of Group B, The winner of Group B plays the runner-up of Group A, etc. The winners of the four quarterfinal games move on to the semifinal matches, which determine the contestants for the championship game. The losing semifinalists compete to determine third place.

USA Entry Event Frequency Month
Women's National Team

Year-round

 
Algarve Cup

Annually

 
Olympics

Every Four Years

Summer 2008
Pan American Games

Every Four Years

 
Peace Queen Cup    
Concacaf Women's Gold Cup

Every Four Years 

 
FIFA Women's World Cup

Every Four Years

 
UEFA Women's Champions League      
       
     Asia: AFCWomen's Championship
    
 Africa: CAFWomen's Championship
    
 North America: CONCACAFWomen's Gold Cup
    
 South America: CONMEBOLSudamericano Femenino      Oceania: OFCWomen's Championship
    
 Europe: UEFA Women's Championship

 

The Algarve Cup is a global invitational tournament for national teams in women's soccer; whereas men do not have a similar event given their already demanding event schedule . The Algrave Cup is held annually in the Algarve region of Portugal since 1994, it is one of the most prestigious women's football events, alongside the Women's World Cup and Women's Olympic Football. Currently, 12 teams are invited, with the top eight competing for the championship. The teams are divided into three groups of four — A, B and C. Group C was added in 2002 to provide second-tier teams with high-level match experience every year. The current holder is the United States.

The teams first play round-robin within their pool. Then the placement round proceeds as follows:

11th place: Bottom teams in Group C play one game.
9th place: The Group C runner-up plays one game against the lower-ranked of the fourth-place teams from Groups A and B.
7th place: The Group C winner plays one game against the higher-ranked of the fourth-place teams from Groups A and B.
5th place: The third-place teams from Groups A and B play one game.
3rd place: The second-place teams from Groups A and B play one game.
1st place: The first-place teams from Groups A and B play one game.

The Pan American Games are held every four years usually in the summer; and are particularly well attended by most Latin American countries.

The Olympic Women's Soccer tournament is contested between full national sides, with no age restrictions. The teams are chosen from the best of the previous year's World Cup, with one spot reserved for the host country. The first women's tournament was at the 1996 Atlanta Games.

The Peace Queen Cup was created, inviting 8 women's national teams from 5 continents. The competition divides the teams into two groups of four teams each. In the first stage, within their groups the teams play against each other once, and the winner of each group qualifies for the final, which is played in one single match

For an overview of girl's youth to the FIFA World Cup - Click Here.

 

 

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