The 1995 Women's World Cup Final
Hege Riise, Little Norway and whether small countries can still win the World Cup
“With all the big nations really putting money into their women’s programmes now, little Norway will never…well I would not say never, but we will struggle to get to finals like we did when I played”
Women’s football has spread across the world separately in direction from how men’s football did, with success in the women’s game historically distinct from the traditional male football powers.
Germany are the only country to have ever won a men’s and women’s World Cup whilst Barcelona are the only club to have ever won a men’s and women’s Champions League. Only half of the current top ten in the FIFA rankings have won a men’s World Cup.1 But even among this current top ten list only two teams are Women’s World Cup winners and only four are finalists.
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It seems that at club and international level, there is a shift towards the more familiar names who have come to dominate the sport in recent years. Paris Saint-Germain, Barcelona and Chelsea have all become first time Champions League finalists within the last decade. Internationally, the historically strong Asian nations have faded into the background with traditional European countries strengthening.
The spread of men’s football was heavily influenced by British migration with its emergence closely linked to patterns of colonialism or trade.2 Once the seed had been planted the game took on a life of its own with central Europe - in particular Austria and Hungary - becoming hotbeds for tactical innovation.3 Yet football does not develop in a vacuum and the rise of fascism greatly damaged the burgeoning cultures that had existed in the 1930s. This is just one example of how who we understand as a historic nation in football can be altered by factors far more diverse than GDP or population size.
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