The 2019 Women’s World Cup was faster than the previous one in 2015, according to findings published by Fifa this week.
To mark a year since the World Cup final, world football's governing body released Physical Analysis of the Fifa Women’s World Cup France 2019, produced in collaboration with a number of sports performance experts including Dawn Scott, the senior women’s physical performance manager for England. Scott was previously the high performance coach for the United States when they became champions in 2019 for the fourth time.
Four hundred and thirty-six players from 24 countries were monitored through a computerised tracking system, with their activities subsequently coded into speed zones. More players reached zone five - any speed above 23kmh - compared with previous tournaments. England followed by USA were the semi-finalists with the most zone five attainments: England players 437 times and USA 423 times.
Removed from context, this does not necessarily demonstrate that England were the competition’s fittest team: it may, for instance, reflect time spent trying to recover possession, and USAs repeated switch to a back-five for the second half of games entailed less high-speed running. It does, however, offer an indication of physical capacity, with all playing positions covering slightly greater distance in France compared with Canada four years previously.
The difference between the high-speed distance covered by the top and bottom teams was also reduced by contrast with the figures from Canada, meaning that lower-ranked teams completed significantly more intense activity. This could be reflective of higher fitness levels.
WOMEN’S GAME IS EVOLVING. At 2019 @FIFAWWC teams, and positions, did more higher speed activity than 2015. Thank you to @PatriGlez8, great working with you, @ContextIsKing9 + @Bilby55Wilson on this analysis. What is the end game for your players - context is a key consideration. https://t.co/CuEIMPqGJ6 pic.twitter.com/5N50kXF1Ua— Dawn Scott (@DawnScott06) July 6, 2020
Paul Bradley, a consultant for Barcelona who contributed to the research, said: “The first surprising outcome was the sheer magnitude of the change in demands from the Women’s World Cup 2015 in Canada compared to the 2019 tournament in France – especially given there was very little change in the demands between the 2011 and 2015 competitions.
“We observed that intense running had increased across various playing positions by approximately 16-32 per cent from Canada 2015 to France 2019. It was a clear confirmation of the game’s evolution.”
Another report, published on Tuesday by the Fédération Française de Football and the competition’s Local Organising Committee, highlighted the tournament’s extensive economic and environmental benefits. 1.2 million French and overseas spectators and a global TV audience of over 1 billion fans meant that the World Cup made a contribution of €284m (£255m) to France’s GDP, and 6.4 tonnes of food waste was donated to local community-based associations.