Biggest upsets in Women's World Cup history
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Biggest upsets in Women's World Cup history

It took a while for the talent pool in women’s soccer to grow around the world. That means that early Women’s World Cups didn’t have a ton of upsets. However, that also means that the upsets that took place really packed a punch. There have been only a lucky seven Women’s World Cups, but here are an unlucky 13 of the greatest upsets in the history of the tournament.

 
1 of 13

2011: Nigeria beats Canada

2011: Nigeria beats Canada
Martin Rose/Getty Images

Nigeria has arguably the best track record of any women’s team in Africa. However, the continent has lagged behind others in the development of the sport. Back in 2011, Nigeria wasn’t quite as lauded and had been dropped in a tough group with Germany, France and Canada. It was expected Nigeria would go winless, but instead the team stole a 1-0 win over Canada.

 
2 of 13

1995: Brazil beats Sweden

1995: Brazil beats Sweden
MICKAEL KAPPELER/AFP/Getty Images

Back in 1995, Marta hadn’t helped carry Brazil to relevance. Additionally, Sweden was the host nation. The tournament got off to a terrible start for the Swedes though, as they lost 1-0 in the opening game against the Brazilians. It was Sweden’s only loss in regulation in the tournament.

 
3 of 13

2003: Canada beats China

2003: Canada beats China
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

China was an early Women’s World Cup powerhouse. You may remember this was the team America beat in the famed 1999 Finals — the match made famous by Brandi Chastain. The Chinese also did well in 2003, making it to the quarterfinals, where they faced off with Canada. Canada scored an early goal, China never solved its defense, and Canada scored the 1-0 upset.

 
4 of 13

2015: Australia beats Brazil

2015: Australia beats Brazil
Elsa/Getty Images

Brazil cruised through the group stage, winning all three games. Australia, meanwhile, had gone 1-1-1 in a group with the U.S. and Sweden. Then the script flipped when these two teams met in the knockout round. Australia’s Kyah Pam Simon scored a goal in the 80th minute, and once again Marta was kept from World Cup glory.

 
5 of 13

1995: China beats Sweden

1995: China beats Sweden
Clive Brunskill/Allsport

So yeah, about Sweden’s hosting of the 1995 Women’s World Cup. That Brazil upset was rough, but it seemed like it had righted the ship. In truth China was a better team than Brazil, but the impact of this upset gets it pushed up the list a bit. These two teams went into penalties, which China won 4-3.  The fact Sweden needed a last-minute goal to even get to extra time made the loss that much more deflating.

 
6 of 13

1999: Ghana ties Australia

1999: Ghana ties Australia
Brian Snyder/Getty Images

This was Ghana’s first Women’s World Cup, and it didn’t go great. Ghana was beat by China, 7-0, in its second game. However, the first game of the group stage went a bit better. The African nation was able to earn a 1-1 tie with Australia, which had a disappointing tournament.

 
7 of 13

1999: North Korea beats Denmark

1999: North Korea beats Denmark
AFP/Getty Images

Anytime North Korea has sporting success, it raises eyebrows. So when it trounced Denmark in the 1999 Women’s World Cup, it certainly came as a surprise. This was not an eked out 1-0 win. No, North Korea secured a 3-1 victory over the Scandinavian nation.

 
8 of 13

2007: Nigeria ties Sweden

2007: Nigeria ties Sweden
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Nigeria scored exactly one goal in the tournament. However, that goal came in the 82nd minute against Sweden, which gave the team a 1-1 tie. This came after a tournament in 2003 where Nigeria went winless, scored zero goals and allowed 11.

 
9 of 13

2007: North Korea ties the United States

2007: North Korea ties the United States
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Talk about a game with some awkward sociopolitical connotations. America has been the best team in women’s soccer since basically the beginning. As such, the fact the Americans didn’t make it to the Finals in 2007 was a surprise in and of itself. Things started off terribly with a 2-2 tie against North Korea. It could have been worse, though, as the Koreans had a 2-1 lead for a time.

 
10 of 13

2011: Japan beats Germany

2011: Japan beats Germany
FIFA/FIFA via Getty Image

Germany had won the previous two World Cups and was also the host nation and had posted three wins in the group stage. The Germans were true soccer powerhouses. And then Japan stopped them in their tracks. The game was scoreless through 90 minutes, but Karina Maruyama scored in the 108th minute, and the host team was stunned. Japan would go on to win the whole tournament.

 
11 of 13

1995: Norway beats the United States

1995: Norway beats the United States
Getty Images

Norway was early women’s soccer giants, but this was the tournament that really solidified that. Up to this point, the United States had dominated women’s soccer, including winning the first World Cup in 1991. The Americans won their group and then beat Japan 4-0 in the quarterfinals. It seemed like the U.S. was going to repeat. Then Norway got a 1-0 win the semifinals, putting the brakes on the U.S. soccer machine.

 
12 of 13

1991: China beats Norway

1991: China beats Norway
FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images

It’s kind of hard to parse what counts as an upset in the first Women’s World Cup. Here’s what we do know. Norway would make it to the Finals of this tournament, and it went on to win the 1995 tournament. Also, China stomped the Norwegians 4-0 in the group stage. For the sheer one-sidedness of this game, it counts as a huge upset.

 
13 of 13

2015: Colombia beats France

2015: Colombia beats France
Elsa/Getty Images

Colombia made its first World Cup in 2011 but didn’t pick up a single win. The Colombians went into the 2015 tournament ranked 28th in the world, according to FIFA, while France ranked third. In the group stage, France beat England and took down Mexico 5-0. On the other hand, the French were stunned by Colombia in a 2-0 victory for the South American squad, and talk of it being the biggest upset in Women’s World Cup history began almost immediately. It may have felt like recency bias then, but even with the benefit of time we can still say no upset in the Women’s World Cup has been bigger.

Chris Morgan is a sports and pop culture writer and the author of the books The Comic Galaxy of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and The Ash Heap of History. You can follow him on Twitter @ChrisXMorgan.

More must-reads:

Customize Your Newsletter

+

Get the latest news and rumors, customized to your favorite sports and teams. Emailed daily. Always free!

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.