21 May 19
The Shutterstock Blog
Here are ten high-powered players, both well-established pros and game-changing up-and-comers, to keep an eye on at this year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup.
From June 7th through July 7th, the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup will play out across nine cities in France, with twenty-four national teams competing for a piece of sports history.
2019 is a significant year for the Women’s World Cup. Due to the persistence of female athletes who fought for gender equality within the sport in terms of payment and facilities, FIFA has doubled the prize money for the event. As women around the world continue to work to break through that glass ceiling, the sports community is following suit, and female footballers are at the vanguard of progress.
Here’s a peek at ten extraordinary players we’re hoping to see this summer. We’ve included a mix of established stars and up-and-comers to our list. So, whether you’re a seasoned fan or a newcomer to the football world, you’re sure to find someone exciting to keep an eye on.
Find the six groups on the FIFA website, and be sure to check out a full schedule of match dates here.
1. Alex Morgan, Forward, United States
U.S. forward Alex Morgan, front, shoots as Australia’s Clare Polkinghorne defends during the second half of an international friendly soccer match, in Commerce City, Colo. The United States won 5-3, 04 Apr 2019. Photo by David Zalubowski/AP/Shutterstock.
Fresh off scoring her 100th goal for the USWNT on April 4th, joining the ranks of legends like Mia Hamm and Abby Wambach, this FIFA Women’s World Cup champion and Olympic gold medalist serves as co-captain of the team alongside Carli Lloyd and Megan Rapinoe.
United States’ Alex Morgan is draped in a US flag as she waves to fans after the US defeated Japan 5-2 in the FIFA Women’s World Cup soccer championship in Vancouver, British Columbia. Photo by Elaine Thompson/AP/Shutterstock.
Alex Morgan of the United States of America during the Women’s Gold Medal Match between USA and Japan as part of the London 2012 Summer Olympic Games. Wembley Stadium, London. Photo by Marc Atkins/Shutterstock.
“I feel like I have learned so much every single day by being on this team,” Morgan told Forbes last year. “It’s having twenty-five sisters around.”
In addition to her work on the pitch, she’s passionate about empowering girls around the world. She teamed up with Jambo Bukoba to further education opportunities and gender equality for children in Tanzania through sports. Another cause near and dear to her heart is helping animals; she’s a vegan and supports the ASPCA.
(l-r) Alex Krieer and Lauren Holiday congratulate goal scorer Alex Morgan of USA During the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015 round of 16 match between the USA and Colombia in Edmonton, Canada. 22 June 2015. Photo by Mike Sturk/EPA/Shutterstock.
Morgan was also included as one of TIME’s 100 Most Influential People of 2019. Along with her teammates, she has devoted her time to fighting gender-based discrimination in the sport, paving the way for future generations. As much as she appreciated her 100th goal—and her Sports Illustrated cover—Morgan’s eyes are squarely focused on the upcoming World Cup.
“This will never, ever, ever get old,” she recently wrote on Instagram. “If anything, it just gets better.”
2. Wendie Renard, Defender, France
France defender Wendie Renard controls the ball during a women’s international friendly soccer match between France and Germany at Francis-le-Basser Stadium in Laval, western France. 28 Feb 2019. Photo by David Vincent/AP/Shutterstock.
On June 7th, this Martinique-born star and her team will open the World Cup against Korea in Paris. When she was just eight years old, Renard watched Marinette Pichon play football. She pointed at the television and told her mother that one day, she would wear the French jersey too. Her mom, as she remembers it, laughed and said, “Oh yeah? We’ll see.”
Wendie Renard (c) of France celebrates after scoring a goal against Mexico during the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015 group F match between France and Mexico in Ottawa, Canada. 17 June 2015. Photo by Chris Roussakis/EPA/Shutterstock.
Wendie Renard of France. France v. Austria, UEFA Women’s Euro 2017, group C, Stadion Galgenwaard, Utrecht, the Netherlands. 22 July 2017. Photo by Matt West/Shutterstock.
At 6’1’’, Renard has grown since those early days, but her commitment remains just as strong. “From a very young age, I’ve always had ambition,” she recently told The Players’ Tribune. “Even when I played with the boys on the under-11, under-14 teams, I wanted to win everything. Even then I knew: I needed to play twice as hard, twice as smart, to get respect.”
Wendie Renard of Lyon. Lyon v PSG, UEFA Women’s Champions League Final, Cardiff City Stadium, Cardiff, UK. 1 June 2017. Photo by Kieran McManus/Shutterstock.
As a child, a teacher told Renard that “professional female footballer” wasn’t a career, so she proved her wrong. What’s more, she continues to carve out a space to women and girls in the sport. When asked what she would tell her younger self if given the opportunity, she replied, “I’m proud of her because she’s come a long way, that little girl.”
French National team captain and defender Wendie Renard (c) waves to a fan during the official training session in the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015 group F in Moncton, Canada. 08 June 2015. Photo by CJ Gunther/EPA/Shutterstock.
3. Saki Kumagai, Defender, Japan
Saki Kumagai of Lyon. Lyon v PSG, UEFA Women’s Champions League Final, Cardiff City Stadium, Cardiff, UK. 1 June 2017. Photo by Kieran McManus/Shutterstock.
The Japan women’s national football team captain returns to the World Cup this year with a 2018 AFC Women’s Asian Cup victory under her belt. She made history back in Frankfurt when she scored the winning penalty kick for Japan in the 2011 final—a powerful symbol of hope and resilience in the aftermath of the earthquake—and she hasn’t slowed down since.
United States’ Carli Lloyd (10) out-jumps Japan’s Saki Kumagai to get her head on the ball during the first half of the FIFA Women’s World Cup soccer championship in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, on WWCup Japan US Soccer. 5 Jul 2015. Photo by Darryl Dyck/AP/Shutterstock.
Australia’s Tameka Butt (c) is pursued by Japan’s Saki Kumagai (r) and Rumi Utsugi (l) during the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015 quarter final match between Australia and Japan in Edmonton, Canada. 27 June 2015. Photo by Dan Riedlhuber/EPA/Shutterstock.
More recently, Kumagai has spoken about how she’s learned to calm her nerves and focus her energies on enjoying the present moment, especially when it’s the stuff of football legends. This month, she’s a strong contender for the BBC Women’s Footballer of the Year 2019, to be named on May 22nd. “If football didn’t exist I couldn’t express myself,” she told the BBC in April. “It’s my life. Without football, life is less interesting and too serious. You always have to laugh.”
USA’s Tobin Heath (bottom) in action against Japan’s Saki Kumagai (L) during the 2019 SheBelieves Cup soccer match at Talen Energy Stadium in Chester, Pennsylvania. USA, 27 February 2019. Photo by TRACIE VAN AUKEN/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock.
4. Lucy Bronze, Defender, England
Lucy Bronze of Lyon. Chelsea Women v Lyon Feminines, UEFA Women’s Champions League, Football, Cherry Red Records Stadium, London, UK. 28 Apr 2019. Photo by Javier Garcia/BPI/Shutterstock.
This 2018 BBC Women’s Footballer of the Year is largely considered the best right-back in the world. As Rebecca Smith, former New Zealand international defender, told CNN, “I think Lucy Bronze, right now, is one of the most powerful defenders that the world has ever seen.” England’s head coach Phil Neville has named her “the best player in the world.”
From left, England’s Karen Carney, Lucy Bronze, Fara Williams, and Steph Houghton celebrate Bronze’s goal against Norway during second half FIFA Women’s World Cup round of 16 soccer action in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. 22 Jun 2015. Photo by Sean Kilpatrick/AP/Shutterstock.
When Bronze was a teenager, women’s football didn’t have the exposure and reach it deserved, but now, thanks to athletes like her, the tides are changing. “I think it’s important women are empowered to do anything,” she told The Telegraph last year.
England’s Lucy Bronze (r) battles with France’s Elodie Thomis (l). FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015 group F France Women v England Women. 09 Jun 2015. Photo by Imago/BPI/Shutterstock.
Bronze is confident about playing in France, since she plays for Lyon, like Renard. In April, she said in conversation with The Independent, “Whenever I have a game there for Lyon, [I’ve] stood in the middle of the pitch looking around thinking, ‘this is going to have England fans screaming for us, we are going to be lifting the trophy.’ Every morning I am visualizing it. I am set on it.”
Lucy Bronze of England and Marija Aleksic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. England v Bosnia and Herzegovina, 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup Qualifier, group 1, Banks’s Stadium, Walsall, England. 24 Nov 2017. Photo by Michael Zemanek/BPI/Shutterstock.
5. Gaëlle Enganamouit, Forward, Cameroon
Gaelle Enganamouit (l) of Cameroon tries for a cross against Rachel Rinast (r) of Switzerland during the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015 group C match between Switzerland and Cameroon at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton, Canada. 16 June 2015. Photo by Mike Sturk/EPA/Shutterstock.
This Cameroonian forward famously scored a hat trick against Ecuador at the 2015 Women’s World Cup, the first ever played by her country, and won the African Player of the Year award. Now, she’s back, and she has experience on her side. “Teams will know what to expect and everyone will want to beat us,” she said in January. “We’ll need to be at our very best, both physically and tactically. We want to do better, or at least as well as four years ago.”
Gaelle Enganamouit of Cameroon (c) goes up for a header against Yukari Kinga of Japan (l Rear) as Mizuho Sakaguchi of Japan (r) looks on during the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015 group C match between Japan and Cameroon in Vancouver, Canada. 12 June 2015. Photo by Bob Frid/EPA/Shutterstock.
That same month, she made moves off the pitch as well. She opened Rails Football Academy, Cameroon’s first football school for girls, in Yaounde.
Rosengard’s Gaelle Enganamouit (l) vies with Slavia Prague’s Veronika Pincova during the Women’s Champions League Round of 16 second leg match between Rosengard and Slavia Prague in Malmo, Sweden. 16 November 2016. Photo by Bjorn Lindgren/Tt/EPA/Shutterstock.
“I will give everything to train my younger sisters and to help them grow,” she told the BBC. “My motivation is my background. I may be a big player now, but all know I am from the ‘Railway,’ and things were not easy for me. That is why with the opportunity I have today, I have decided to help others.”
Gaelle Enganamouit of Cameroon looks on during the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015 group C match between Japan and Cameroon in Vancouver, Canada. 12 June 2015. Photo by Bob Frid/EPA/Shutterstock.
6. Daniëlle van de Donk, Midfielder, Netherlands
Danielle Van de Donk of Arsenal Women celebrates at the final whistle. Brighton and Hove Albion Women v Arsenal Women, the FA Women’s Super League, at the American Express Community Stadium, Brighton, UK. 28 Apr 2019. Photo by Simon Dael/BPI/Shutterstock.
After helping her country secure its spot in the World Cup, this Dutch midfielder is one of several powerhouses on the team, along with Vivianne Miedema and Lieke Martens. “I think Daniëlle is one of those players that really fights for her team,” Rebecca Smith explained. “She’s not always seen, but she’s always in the right position at the right time. She’s extremely influential on the pitch and has a lot of leadership qualities.”
Danielle Van De Donk (l) of the Netherlands in action against goalkeeper Erin Nayler of New Zealand during the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015 group A match between New Zealand and the Netherlands in Edmonton, Canada. 06 June 2015. Photo by Dan Riedlhuber/EPA/Shutterstock.
Brighton and Hove Albion Women v Arsenal Women, the FA Women’s Super League, Football, at the American Express Community Stadium, Brighton, UK. 28 Apr 2019. Photo by Simon Dael/BPI/Shutterstock.
The Netherlands will be led by coach Sarina Wiegman, who in 2017 was named the Best FIFA Women’s Coach. “She knows our team inside-out,” van de Donk said at the time. As Smith suggested, the interplay between van de Donk, her teammates, and also her coach is likely to prove instrumental in June.
Beth Mead of Sunderland Ladies goes to ground after a challenge by Danielle van de Donk of Arsenal Ladies during the SSE Women’s FA Cup match between Arsenal LFC and Sunderland AFC Ladies played at Meadow Park, Borehamwood on April 17th 2016. Photo by Joe Toth/BPI/Shutterstock.
7. Jody Brown, Forward, Jamaica
Chinyelu Asher, Jody Brown, Marlo Sweatman. Panama v Jamaica, 2018 CONCACAF Women’s Championship third place, football match, Toyota Stadium, Panama. 17 Oct 2018. Photo by Brad Smith/ISI/Shutterstock.
At seventeen years old, this rising star joins the Jamaica women’s national football team at their first ever Women’s World Cup, following a stellar performance at the 2018 CONCACAF Women’s Championship. “Being able to represent my country means a lot to me because it shows how much time I put into my sport and how much my team means to me,” she said earlier this year.
Jody Brown, Katherine Castillo. Panama v Jamaica, 2018 CONCACAF Women’s Championship third place, football match, Toyota Stadium, Panama. 17 Oct 2018. Photo by Brad Smith/ISI/Shutterstock.
“I’m telling you the amount of sacrifices we’ve made — the staff, the players — for the country, we’re going to change the culture back home,” coach Hue Menzies told FIFA.com. “How they perceive women, it’s changed. It’s a big sacrifice. And you know what? Those 20 girls decided they were going to make the change.”
Jamaica, Jody Brown, Allyson Swaby, Trudi Carter, Christina Chang, Giselle Washington, Deneisha Blackwood. Panama v Jamaica, 2018 CONCACAF Women’s Championship third place, football match, Toyota Stadium, Panama. 17 Oct 2018. Photo by Brad Smith/ISI/Shutterstock.
8. Sam Kerr, Forward, Australia
Samantha Kerr, Allysha Chapman. Rio 2016 Olympic Games, Football, Corinthians Arena, Sao Paulo, Brazil. 03 Aug 2016. Photo by Nelson Antoine/AP/Shutterstock.
As captain of the Australian women’s national soccer team, the 2018 Young Australian of the Year, and Ballon d’Or nominee heads into June with hopes for victory. “I think this World Cup is really important for us as a team because this is our best chance yet,” she told foxsports.com.au in March. “I don’t think you can call yourself a ‘golden generation’ until you’ve achieved something massive and we haven’t yet. Hopefully this is the time.”
Leena Khamis of Australia (l) celebrates her 1-0 with teammate Samantha Kerr during the group D match. Australia against Equatorial Guinea of FIFA Women’s World Cup Soccer Tournament at the FIFA Women’s World Cup Stadium in Bochum, Germany. 03 July 2011. Photo by Roland Weihrauch/EPA/Shutterstock.
When Nike asked her what would happen if she scored the winning goal in the World Cup final, Kerr responded with one word only: “Backflip.”
Samantha Kerr of the Matildas (L) celebrates scoring during a friendly match between Australian Matildas and Brazil at McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle. 19 September 2017. Photo by Darren Pateman/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock.
Kerr is also making strides for women in sport, becoming the first female marquee player selected by the Football Federation of Australia. “I never thought that female sport and football would take these steps that it has so quickly and this is something I’ve dreamed of,” she confessed recently. “It’s going to be a dream come true, this, France, because I think it will be the biggest turning point for women’s sport.”
Australia’s Samantha Kerr, left, has a shot on New Zealand’s goalkeeper Erin Nayler during their Cup of Nations soccer game in Sydney Soccer Cup Of Nations, Sydney, Australia. 28 Feb 2019. Photo by Rick Rycroft/AP/Shutterstock.
9. Caroline Graham Hansen, Midfielder, Norway
Caroline Graham Hansen of Norway. Norway v Belgium, UEFA Women’s Euro 2017, group A, Rat Verlegh Stadion, Breda, the Netherlands. 20 July 2017. Photo by Matt West/Shutterstock.
Ada Hegerberg, widely considered to be the best female football player in the world, will not be playing in the 2019 World Cup, due to disputes over the treatment and lack of respect for women’s football in Norway. Still, Hanson, who came through the ranks at around the same time, will play this summer. Hanson was the country’s top scorer during 2015 qualifiers, but she missed the last tournament due to a knee injury, so this year will give her another opportunity.
Caroline Graham Hansen of Norway and Tine De Caigny of Belgium. Norway v Belgium, UEFA Women’s Euro 2017, Group A, Rat Verlegh Stadion, Breda, the Netherlands. 20 July 2017. Photo by Matt West/Shutterstock.
Like many of her counterparts around the world, Hansen has also played a role in paving the way for equality. When the Norwegian Football Association (NFF) and Norway’s players’ association (NISO) signed an equal pay agreement in 2017, she wrote, “Thank you for making this step for female athletes. This means everything for us, for our team, our sport, and for all the female athletes out there, who do the same work, the same sport as men do, but get paid less.”
Caroline Graham Hansen (C) of Norway in action with Netherland’s Kika Van Es (bottom) and Dominique Janssen during the Women World Cup qualifying soccer match between Norway and The Netherlands in Oslo, Norway. 04 September 2018. Photo by CORNELIUS POPPE/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock.
10. Marta, Forward, Brazil
Brazil’s Andressa Alves, left, Cristiane, center, and Marta celebrate after their side’s second goal during a group E match of the women’s Olympic football tournament between Sweden and Brazil at the Rio Olympic Stadium in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. Rio 2016. Photo by Leo Correa/AP/Shutterstock.
No list would be complete without Brazil’s legendary Marta Vieira da Silva. This six-time FIFA Women’s Player of the Year, known worldwide as one of the best of all time, is the leading scorer in Women’s World Cup history. Depending on what happens this summer, she could become the player with the most World Cup goals ever, regardless of gender.
Brazil’s Andressa Alves (r) celebrates her goal with teammate Marta (2-r) during the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015 group E match between Brazil and Spain in the Olympic Stadium in Montreal, Canada. 13 June 2015. Photo by Andre Pichette/EPA/Shutterstock.
Still, it seems this global superstar is more focused on bringing her team to victory than she is on any personal milestones. “I do everything for my team because if my teammates are playing well, good things will happen naturally,” she told ESPN last year.
Brazil’s Marta, left, and Canada’s Jessie Fleming compete for the ball during the bronze medal match of the women’s Olympic football tournament between Brazil and Canada at the Arena Corinthians stadium in Sao Paulo. Rio 2016 Olympic Games, Soccer, Maracana, Brazil. 19 Aug 2016. Photo by Nelson Antoine/AP/Shutterstock.
In 2018, Marta became a Goodwill Ambassador for UN Women, using her platform to support women and girls in sports. She told the public, “Through sport, women and girls can challenge socio-cultural norms and gender stereotypes and increase their self-esteem, develop life skills and leadership.” The incredible players at the 2019 Women’s World Cup are a testament to that fact.
Brazil’s Marta (r) in action against Spain’s Celia Jimenez during the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015 group E match between Brazil and Spain in the Olympic Stadium in Montreal, Canada. 13 June 2015. Photo by Andre Pichette/EPA/Shutterstock.
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