FIFA Women's World Cup Knockout Stage Rules
The FIFA Women’s World Cup is the premier competition in women’s international soccer, held every four years. The tournament is made up of two stages, a group stage, followed by a knockout stage, which eventually determines the Women’s World Cup champion. Keep reading to learn how the knockout stage works in the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
What Is the Knockout Stage?
In the FIFA Women’s World Cup, the knockout stage is the second stage of the competition which determines the champion. After an initial group stage played in a round-robin format, a single-elimination stage is used to pare the field down to the winner. The losers of the semifinal matches play an additional game to determine the third-place winner, with the loser of the championship match taking second place.
How Many Teams Are in the Knockout Stage?
Of the 32 teams that enter the initial group stage of the FIFA Women’s World Cup, 16 advance to the knockout stage. The number of teams in each knockout stage is as follows:
- Round of 16: 16 teams
- Quarterfinals: 8 teams
- Semifinals: 4 teams
- Third Place Match: 2 teams
- Finals: 2 teams
Knockout Stage Matchups
Matchups in the FIFA Women’s World Cup knockout stage are determined by the results of the group stage. The two teams with the best win records in each stage advance to the Round of 16 of the knockout stage.
In each matchup of the Round of 16, a winner of each group plays a runner-up from another group. There is a predetermined formula that sets the matchups among groups in the knockout stage. For instance, the winners of Groups A, E, C, and G play the runners-up from Groups C, G, A, and E, respectively, in the first round.
Each winner of a Round of 16 match advances to the quarterfinals, and the tournament continues in a single-elimination format from there. The winners of quarterfinal games advance to the two semifinal games, whose winners play in the final to be named World Cup champion. The losers of the semifinal games play in an additional third-place game.
Knockout Stage Tie Break Rules
Knockout stage games in the FIFA Women’s World Cup cannot end in ties. (This is different from the group stage, where ties are allowed.) In the knockout stage, two 15-minute periods of extra time (overtime) are played following any game that ends regulation time in a tie. The team with the most goals at the end of the two extra time periods is declared the winner.
If a knockout stage game remains tied after the two extra time periods, the game enters a penalty shootout. Each team selects five players to take turns attempting penalty kicks. The team with the most successful kicks after five penalty kick rounds wins. If the number of penalty goals is tied, teams continue alternating penalty kicks until one team scores and the other misses. Each member of the team, including the goalkeeper, must attempt a penalty kick before a player may take their second.
Knockout Stage Rules Summary
- The two teams with the best win records in each of the eight groups over the group stage advance to the knockout stage (16 teams total).
- There are four rounds in the knockout stage: the Round of 16, the quarterfinals, the semifinals, and the finals (Women’s World Cup championship game).
- Matchups in the knockout stage are set based on teams’ records in the group stage. Winners of each group stage face runners-up from different groups in the Round of 16.
- Unlike in the group stage, knockout stage games are not allowed to end in a tie.
- Knockout stage matches that reach the end of regulation time with a tie score continue into two 15-minute periods of extra time (overtime).
- If the score is still tied after the two periods of extra time, a penalty shootout takes place to determine the winner of the match.
- The losers of the two semifinal matches play an additional game to determine the third-place finisher in the tournament.
How many teams are in the FIFA Women’s World Cup knockout stage?
There are 16 teams in the FIFA Women’s World Cup knockout stage. The best two teams from each group in the group stage advance to the Round of 16 of the knockout stage, cutting the initial field of 32 teams in the group stage in half.
Can there be a draw in the knockout stage of the FIFA Women’s World Cup?
There cannot be a draw in the knockout stage of the FIFA Women’s World Cup. This is different from the group stage, where ties are allowed. Knockout stage games that end in a tie advance to two 15-minute periods of extra time. If the score is still tied after extra time, a penalty shootout is used to determine a winner.
How do you advance in the FIFA Women’s World Cup knockout stage?
You advance in the FIFA Women’s World Cup by winning a game in each round. The knockout stage is a single-elimination stage, so each team must win their Round of 16 game to advance to the quarterfinal. After each round in the knockout stage, the winner advances, and the loser is eliminated. The one exception is the additional third-place game played between the two losers of the semifinal games.