BC Place on opening day

What is the Women's World Cup? Get the lowdown of 2015 event in Canada

Less than one year after the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil captured the imagination of the planet, the 2015 edition is poised to do much of the same as the most talented women in the sport from 24 different nations battle it out in Canada for the seventh world soccer championship in tournament history.


SEVEN GAMES TO WIN IT ALL: The 2015 Women's World Cup runs nearly one whole month, kicking off on Saturday, June 6 and concluding with the final on Sunday, July 5 at BC Place in Vancouver, home of the MLS Vancouver Whitecaps.

As women's soccer has continued to develop around the world, the premier international soccer tournament has also had to adapt. The tournament field increased from 12 teams in 1991 to 16 teams in 1999, and for this year's edition, eight more teams were added for a total of 24 qualifying nations.

The 24 countries are split into six groups of four teams each during the round-robin group stage. The top two teams in each group and the four best third-place finishers will advance to the knockout rounds: the Round of 16, quarterfinals, semifinals and final (a third-place match will also be played). Eight teams are eliminated after the group stage.

Here's how the groups break out, with the USA's Group D widely considered the toughest – aka the Group of Death.

Group A: Canada, China, New Zealand, Netherlands
Group B: Germany, Ivory Coast, Norway, Thailand
Group C: Japan, Switzerland, Cameroon, Ecuador
Group D: USA, Australia, Sweden, Nigeria
Group E: Brazil, South Korea, Spain, Costa Rica
Group F: France, England, Colombia, Mexico


BIGGER AND BETTER THAN EVER: A grand total of 52 matches will be played across six Canadian venues -- Edmonton, Moncton, Montreal, Ottawa, Vancouver and Winnipeg -- making it the largest and longest ever World Cup tournament for women.

Current ticket sales for the event mean that several attendance records are set to fall.

It's also the first World Cup – men's or women's – that will be played entirely in stadiums featuring artificial turf, which led to some controversy in the lead-up to the tournament.

For the first time in history, the US women's national team (USWNT for short) is not entering the tournament as FIFA's No. 1-ranked team, trailing behind Germany (SEE FIFA WORLD RANKINGS HERE). In addition to those two, France, reigning champions Japan, Brazil, Sweden and Canada all have designs on being in the final -- more legitimate contenders than we've ever seen in the sport.

Another new feature making a debut in Canada: Goal-line technology makes its debut at a Women's World Cup.

You can watch every play from every match, including the goal-line replays, on FOX Sports, Telemundo and NBC Universo in the USA, as well as CTV and TSN in Canada (get each TV schedule here).


MAKING HISTORY: The inaugural Women's World Cup in 1991, held in China, was called the World Championship for Women's Football for the M&Ms Cup; FIFA did not want to make it a "World Cup" just yet. Back then, the women played 80-minute games. FIFA bestowed the World Cup brand upon the 1995 tournament and increased matches to 90 minutes each.

The previous six Women's World Cups have yielded four victors – USA (1991, 1999), Norway (1995), Germany (2003, 2007) and Japan (2011). Just like in men's soccer, the stars above a nation's soccer shield signify the number of World Cup titles.

In the case of the USWNT, it's now been 16 years since they last hoisted the coveted trophy. Will they celebrate the Fourth of July weekend with a third title? Or will some other contender put their signature look on the 2015 Women's World Cup?

2015: ?????
2011: Japan (2-2 after extra time and 3-1 on PKs vs. USA)
2007: Germany (2-0 vs. Brazil)
2003: Germany (2-1 vs. Sweden in suddent death OT)
1999: USA (0-0 after extra time and 5-4 on PKs vs. China)
1995: Norway (2-0 vs. Germany)
1991: USA (2-1 vs. Norway)


TOURNAMENT MASCOT: Most every major FIFA competition has one. In 2015 you'll be meeting Shuéme – a female great white owl.