The FIFA Women’s World Cup tournament consists of a group stage and a knockout stage. We identify several issues that create competitive imbalance in the group stage. We use match data from all Women’s World Cup tournaments from 1991 through 2019 to empirically assess competitive imbalance across groups in each World Cup. Using least squares, we determine ratings for all teams. For each team, we average the ratings of the opponents in the group to calculate group opponents rating. We find that the range in group opponents rating varies between 2.5 and 4.5 goals indicating substantial competitive imbalance. We use logistic regression to quantify the impact of imbalance on the probability of success in the Women’s World Cup. Specifically, our estimates show that one goal less in group opponents rating can increase the probability of reaching the quarterfinal by 33%. We discuss several policy recommendations to reduce competitive imbalance at the Women’s World Cup.
Keywords: balance; fairness; FIFA Women’s World Cup; least squares; logistic regression; rating sports teams