The ninth edition of the FIFA Women's World Cup is officially underway.
Over the next four weeks, 32 teams will compete across 64 matches at 10 venues in Australia and New Zealand.
Opening Day brought its share of thrills on the pitch, with a big upset win for one host country and a tense match that ended in victory for the other. As the soccer world turns its attention to the women's tournament, the World Cup has also highlighted a number of issues off the pitch.
- Fairytale start for New Zealand: It was a cheerful atmosphere in Auckland, New Zealand, as the home side scored an upset victory over Norway. This marked New Zealand's first Women's World Cup victory, and the team got to do it in front of a roaring 42,000 spectators in the friendly confines of Eden Park. The game set a New Zealand soccer match attendance record — for both men's and women's play. Norway is considered one of the tournament favorites and will look to right the ship.
- Cagey win for Australia: Steph Catley, Australia's stand-in captain, had the weight of the nation on her shoulders as she stepped up to take the match-winning penalty in the second half against the Republic of Ireland. Wearing the armband in place of the injured Sam Kerr, Catley held her nerve and secured the win in her team's opening match. Irish fans, meanwhile, still found something to cheer about: Their squad went toe-to-toe with a powerhouse of women's soccer and more than held their own. That's impressive for the country's Women's World Cup debut.
Other key storylines:
- Tragedy close to home: A rare multiple-victim shooting in Auckland just hours before the tournament opened rattled the city where tens of thousands had just gathered to watch New Zealand play. Authorities have given no indication the shooting had anything to do with the competition, but it frayed nerves and led to the canceling of a designated fan zone downtown.
- Highlighting women's pay: A subject of particular interest in the US gains a global audience this month: the issue of equal pay for women's athletes. Soccer players at the 2023 Women’s World Cup will on average earn just 25 cents for every dollar earned by men at their World Cup last year, a new CNN analysis found.
- Making history: For the first time ever, a total of 32 teams will vie for this year’s Women's World Cup prize – the most countries to ever compete at the tournament. That larger field makes room for eight nations that have never competed at a World Cup finals before: Haiti, Republic of Ireland, Morocco, Panama, Philippines, Portugal, Vietnam and Zambia.
What's next: The action resumes on the pitch tomorrow. The US Women’s National Team, which arrives as the two-time defending champion and arguably the favorite to win an unprecedented third consecutive title, will play Vietnam at 9 p.m. ET.