Barcelona captain and two-time Ballon d’Or winner Alexia Putellas will undergo knee surgery on Wednesday, the club announced Tuesday.

The Spain forward left national team training camp last month due to a knee injury, which has also left her sidelined from recent Barcelona matches. She hasn’t played since being sidelined at the half of the club’s Champions League win over Benfica on Nov. 14.

She’s missed the last seven matches for Barcelona.

“Barcelona women’s football star Alexia Putellas is undergoing this Wednesday 27 December an arthroscopy on her left knee,” the club said in its statement. “The club will be making an official medical announcement once the operation has concluded.”

According to The Athletic, both the club and staff were concerned with tests that concluded she didn’t have a serious injury. An additional opinion was sought over what is reportedly an ongoing issue, and next steps included surgery.

Putellas missed the 2022 European Championship with an ACL injury, but was part of the Spain team that won the World Cup earlier this year.

The 29-year-old, who has played in 408 games for Barcelona since arriving in 2012, is out of contract this summer. While a new contract has been offered to her at Barcelona, she’s also been linked to the NWSL, the league for which is where Barcelona coach Jonatan Giraldez is rumored to be leaving upon the conclusion of the season.

She’s won 25 trophies with Barcelona, including seven Liga F titles and two Champions League trophies.

Even after Spain’s players refused to return to their national team, World Cup stars including Alexia Putellas and Aitana Bonmatí received call-ups Monday for upcoming Nations League matches.

Of the 23 players selected to the roster, 15 were present at the 2023 World Cup and 21 signed a statement just last week demanding that the Spanish football federation (RFEF) make further changes before they return. Per Spanish newspaper El Periódico, the players found out about their call-ups through the televised roster announcement.

If the 21 players refuse to play for the national team, they could face serious consequences. In Spain, the rejection of a national team call-up is punishable by a financial fine of up to €30,000, by a ban of up to 15 years, as well as other possible sanctions.

In the aftermath of Spain’s World Cup win, the national team and federation have been embroiled in controversy. Luis Rubiales resigned as RFEF president as a result of the backlash against his forced kiss of star player Jenni Hermoso at the World Cup final, and controversial head coach Jorge Vilda has been fired. But those changes “are not enough for the players to feel safe, where women are respected, where there is support for women’s football and where we can maximize our potential,” they said in a statement Friday.

The dispute between the players and their federation stretches back to before the World Cup. In October 2022, 15 players refused to play for the national team, and they were left off subsequent rosters, including the World Cup team. Several of “Las 15” were included on the most recent roster, including Mapi Léon and Patri Guijarro.

“The players of the Spanish team have, at all times, been open to dialogue, seeking to convey clear and well-argued reasons that we believe are necessary to be able to carry out our work at the highest level with the respect we deserve,” the players wrote last week. “The specified changes to the RFEF are based on zero tolerance for those people who, from a position within the RFEF, have had, incited, hidden or applauded attitudes that go against the dignity of women.”

The players have called for more systemic changes in addition to the departures of Jorge Vilda and Luis Rubiales.

“We firmly believe that strong changes are required in leadership positions in the RFEF and specifically, in the area of women’s football,” the players wrote. “We want to end this statement by expressing that the players of the Spanish team are professionals, and what fills us most with pride is wearing the shirt of our national team and leading our country to the highest positions.”

Hours before Monday’s roster announcement, the Spanish federation released a statement, urging players to join them in structural change. According to Spanish outlet Relevo, national team players had not responded to RFEF’s ultimatum ahead of the announcement because they felt as though their previous statement was “clear and firm.”

“The Federation itself is aware of the need to make structural changes and has recently begun to materialize them,” the RFEF said. “Therefore, players are urged to join this change led by the Federation, understanding that the transformations that must continue must be solid and fair.”

Notably, Hermoso was not one of the 23 players selected, with head coach Montse Tomé saying Monday that the team respects her stance and stand behind her “in everything.”

“The first thing to say is that we are with Jenni in everything,” she said. “We have believed that the best way to protect her in this call is like this. We count on Jenni.”

Jenni Hermoso, Alexia Putellas and the rest of the Spanish women’s national team will not play for their country until more changes are made within the Spanish football federation (RFEF).

Luis Rubiales resigned as RFEF president as a result of the backlash to his forced kiss of Hermoso at the 2023 World Cup final, and controversial head coach Jorge has been fired. But those changes “are not enough for the players to feel safe, where women are respected, where there is support for women’s football and where we can maximize our potential,” the players said in a statement.

The players are demanding the restructuring of the women’s football organization, the presidential cabinet and general secretary, the communications and marketing department and the ethics and integrity department.

Head coach Montse Tomé, who took over in the wake of Vilda’s firing, is set to announce her first squad Friday. The World Cup champions are set to play in Nations League games against Sweden and Switzerland on Sept. 22 and 26.

“The players of the Spanish team have, at all times, been open to dialogue, seeking to convey clear and well-argued reasons that we believe are necessary to be able to carry out our work at the highest level with the respect we deserve,” the players wrote. “The specified changes to the RFEF are based on zero tolerance for those people who, from a position within the RFEF, have had, incited, hidden or applauded attitudes that go against the dignity of women.”

Before Rubiales stepped down earlier this week, he had vowed not to resign in a meeting of the RFEF. Many in the audience at the meeting applauded Rubiales, though some have since apologized, saying that they felt pressured to do so.

At the time, players said they would not play for Spain again “if the present leadership continues.” They also asked for “real structural changes that help the national team continue to grow.” Though Vilda and Rubiales are out, the players want to see more systemic changes.

“We firmly believe that strong changes are required in leadership positions in the RFEF and specifically, in the area of women’s football,” the players wrote. “We want to end this statement by expressing that the players of the Spanish team are professionals, and what fills us most with pride is wearing the shirt of our national team and leading our country to the highest positions.

“We believe that it is time to fight to show that these situations and practices have no place in football or society, that the current structure needs changes and we do it so that the next generations can have equality in football and at the level that we all deserve.”

Alexia Putellas and the rest of the Spain women’s national team are aiming to inspire change beyond soccer as the fallout from their World Cup controversy continues.

Luis Rubiales resigned as president of the Spanish soccer federation (RFEF) earlier this week as the result of mounting pressure from his behavior at the 2023 World Cup final. Following Spain’s 1-0 win over England, Rubiales kissed star midfielder Jenni Hermoso, a gesture which she has maintained came without her consent.

Hermoso’s teammates have stood with her in the wake of the incident, which created an international uproar and has led to multiple investigations into Rubiales.

So when FC Barcelona Femení became the first sports team to win the Medal of Honor from the Catalan parliament, Putellas used the platform to call attention to their fight for change.

“We are the first men’s or women’s team to be distinguished with this Medal of Honour — this would have been unthinkable five, 15, 20 years ago, but it has happened,” she said in her acceptance speech Wednesday. “This has not been achieved from scratch, so I would like to thank all those pioneers who, before our arrival, promoted women’s sport at Barca or in other organizations. This medal also belongs to them, we are very aware of that.”

Launched in 2000, previous winners include recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize, former presidents and soccer manager Pep Guardiola, the only previous winner related to sport.

Barcelona received the award for their success as four-time Spanish league winners and two-time Champions League winners, but also because of the impact that they have had on sport in Catalonia. Twice, the team has filled Camp Nou and broken women’s attendance records.

“At Barca, we are helping to build a fairer, more equal society with more opportunities through football. Our efforts and our victories are making us a point of reference for many children, young people and adults,” Putellas said. “Our commitment to women’s sport and society is unquestionable, but we need more help to keep growing, so that this is not just a fad. And here, if I may, I would like to demand more support for women’s football, more and better facilities, more pitches and more investment at grassroots level.”

Noting that women in sports are “here to stay,” Putellas also noted a commitment to “help those that come after us.”

“There is still a long way to go, as we are seeing these days with the serious situation we are facing with the [RFEF] and the changes we are all asking for so that no woman, inside or outside football, ever has to live a situation of disrespect or abuse,” she said.

“We need consensus, courage and leadership from the institutions. We will not stop here. Those who fought before us deserve it, we deserve it for the effort we make every day and all the girls and boys who today dream of being like us deserve it. We will not fail you.”

Lindsey Horan is the lone U.S. women’s national team player to receive a nomination for the 2023 Best FIFA Women’s Player award.

The 29-year-old co-captain scored two goals for the USWNT at the 2023 World Cup, tied with the team’s lone Ballon d’Or nominee Sophia Smith. No other U.S. player scored a goal at the tournament in Australia and New Zealand. Horan also starts in midfield for French club Lyon in Division 1 Féminine.

Alexia Putellas, who won the 2021 and 2022 Best Player awards, is notably absent from the 2023 list after spending the last year recovering from an ACL tear. Beth Mead and Alex Morgan, the runners-up for the 2022 award, also failed to make the cut. Mead has been out since December 2022 with an ACL tear.

World Cup champion Spain counted four nominees, including Aitana Bonmati, who won the Golden Ball at the World Cup, as well as Jenni Hermoso, Mapi Leon and Salma Paralluelo.

England tied Spain with four nominees, with Rachel Daly leading the way. Alex Greenwood, Lauren James and Keira Walsh also are nominated.

Australia star Sam Kerr received a nod, and she is joined by two fellow Matildas in Caitlin Foord and Mary Fowler. Colombia’s Linda Caicedo, France’s Kadidiatou Diani, Sweden’s Amanda Illestedt and Japan’s Hinata Miyazawa, the World Cup Golden Boot winner, round out the nominees.

Nominees for the Best Coach award include England’s Sarina Wiegman, who won the award last year, Australia’s Tony Guastavsson and Sweden’s Peter Gerhardsson. Two club coaches also received nominations: Chelsea’s Emma Hayes and FC Barcelona’s Jonatan Giráldez.

England’s Mary Earps is once again nominated for Best Goalkeeper and is looking to win the award in back-to-back years. She’s joined by Mackenzie Arnold (Australia), Ann-Katrin Berger (Germany), Christiane Endler (Chile), Zecira Musovic (Sweden), Catalina Coll (Spain) and Sandra Paños (Spain).

Jenni Hermoso and Spain’s entire World Cup-winning team, plus 33 additional players, are refusing to return to the national team without a leadership change.

In a letter released Friday, the players came together to ask for “real changes, both sporting and structural,” to the national team, including the removal of the “current leaders.” Luis Rubiales, the president of the Spanish national federation (RFEF), refused to resign earlier in the day despite the growing backlash against him after his unsolicited kiss of  Hermoso at the World Cup final.

In a defiant speech delivered Friday, Rubiales promised to “fight to the end” rather than step down from his post. He also claimed his kiss of Hermoso was “consensual,” which Hermoso disputed in the letter.

“I want to clarify that at no time did I consent to the kiss he gave me and in no case did I seek to lift the president,” she said. “I do not tolerate my word being questioned, much less that words are invented that I have not said.”

Her final remark refers to the statement issued in her name by the Spanish federation in the immediate aftermath of the World Cup final on Aug. 20, which referred to the kiss as a “mutual gesture.”

Hermoso’s World Cup teammates back her up in the letter. So do “Las 15,” the group of 15 players who protested the national federation who protested against the national team environment ahead of the tournament.

The players “want to express their firm and resounding condemnation of behaviors that have violated the dignity of women,” they say in the letter.

Among those who signed the letter are World Cup stars Alexia Putellas, Irene Paredes, Aitana Bonmatí, as well as “Las 15” members Patri Guijarro, Mapi León and Clàudia Pina, all of whom also voiced their support of Hermoso on social media.

“From our union, we want to emphasize that no woman should feel the need to respond to the forceful images that the whole world has seen and of course, they should not be involved in nonconsensual attitudes,” the players continued.

The players also “expect forceful answers from the public powers so that the actions such as those contained do not go unpunished.” They finish their letter by asking for “real changes” to the national team so the program can continue to grow.

Rubiales is expected to be suspended as the Spanish government investigates the incident. FIFA, meanwhile, opened up an investigation of its own on Thursday.

“It fills us with sadness,” the players said in their letter, “that such an unacceptable event is managing to tarnish the greatest sporting success of Spanish women’s football.”

Spanish players came out in force in support of teammate Jenni Hermoso after national federation president Luis Rubiales refused to resign Friday in a defiant speech.

Rubiales has come under fire for his unsolicited kiss of Hermoso during Spain’s World Cup celebration on Aug. 20. While reports indicated he would resign, instead he doubled down, saying he would “fight to the end.” The Spanish government later started the legal proceedings necessary to suspend Rubiales.

After the speech, Hermoso’s World Cup teammates spoke out in condemnation of Rubiales and in solidarity with Hermoso. So did prominent members of “Las 15,” the group of Spanish players who protested against the national team environment ahead of the tournament.

Two-time reigning Ballon d’Or winner Alexia Putellas called Rubiales’ refusal to step down from his post “unacceptable.”

“This is unacceptable. It’s over,” Alexia Putellas wrote in Spanish. “With you partner @Jennihermoso.”

Spain’s Irene Paredes also expressed her support for Hermoso, writing in Spanish: “Everyone saw what happened. The victim is you. I’m with you friend.”

Aitana Bonmatí, who won the tournament’s Golden Ball, wrote in Spanish: “There are limits that cannot be crossed and we cannot tolerate this. We are with you mate.”

Olga Carmona, who scored the game-winning goal, chimed in as well, posting a photo of herself and Hermoso embracing each other after the World Cup win.

Patri Guijarro, Mapi León and Clàudia Pina, all of whom were among “Las 15” and made themselves unavailable for World Cup selection, referenced the longstanding dispute between the players and the national federation.

“It’s over. With you @Jennihermoso,” Guijarro wrote in Spanish. “Unfortunate to reach this point to believe that the complaints from months ago were real.”

León shared similar sentiments, writing in Spanish: “It has not been necessary to spend a lot of time to see that what was demanded a few months ago was not a simple tantrum. The images speak for themselves, and I don’t think there is much more to add. It is unacceptable. For all the women, with you @Jennihermoso.”

So did Pina, who wrote in Spanish: “It is unfortunate that this situation had to come to pass and that many of us have had to give up our dreams to be heard.”

In Rubiales’ speech Friday, he reiterated that his kiss of Hermoso was “consensual,” but the 33-year-old midfielder has refuted that point. She issued a statement Wednesday in conjunction with the Spanish players’ union that said such actions “should never go unpunished.”

On the men’s side, several former Spain internationals criticized Rubiales as well. David de Gea noted that his “ears are bleeding,” while Iker Casillas called the speech a “total embarrassment.”

Real Betis player Borja Iglesias said that while wearing the Spanish national team jersey is “one of the greatest things that has happened to me in my career,” he would not wear it again until “things change and this type of act does not go unpunished.”

FIFPRO, the international players’ union, also issued a statement calling for “immediate disciplinary action” against Rubiales. FIFA opened an investigation against Rubiales on Thursday, and FIFPRO said it also has appealed to UEFA to request disciplinary proceedings.

“Any lack of action by authorities in addressing the conduct of Mr. Rubiales would send an entirely unacceptable and damaging message to the football industry and wider society,” the statement read.

Spain won their first-ever World Cup title on Sunday with a 1-0 victory over England, marking by far their most successful run at the tournament.

Spain made their World Cup debut in 2015, sputtering to a single point while finishing at the bottom of their group. In 2019, they advanced out of the group stage, only to lose a hotly contested matchup against the U.S. women’s national team, the eventual champions, and showing great promise for the future.

Since then, Spain has developed one of the most elite pipelines of talent through the country’s youth development system and top domestic clubs. They have won the last two iterations of the U-17 World Cup in 2018 and 2022, as well as the U-20 World Cup in 2022. FC Barcelona, a club from which much of the Spanish first team is drawn, has won the UEFA Champions League twice out of the last three seasons. Barcelona also dominates the Primera División, Spain’s domestic women’s football league, despite the ongoing rise of Real Madrid.

All of these ambitions are perhaps best represented by Salma Paralluelo, the 19-year-old Barcelona winger who provided the spark in the knockout rounds to lift Spain to the final. Paralluelo was a part of both the U-20 World Cup-winning side and one of the U-17 World Cup-winning teams. She came off the bench in Australia to unlock a new level for a Spanish side that historically hasn’t always been able to capitalize on its style of play. And on Sunday, she started and played the entire game, creating multiple scoring chances and wearing down England’s defense with her speed.

Paralluelo scored the game-winner against the Netherlands in the quarterfinals and the opener in Spain’s semifinal against Sweden. In the final, 23-year-old Spain captain Olga Carmona scored what ended up being the game-winner in the 29th minute.

Those performances should symbolize the pinnacle of a European power seeing its investment at both the youth and club level paying off on the biggest stage. But instead, there’s piling evidence that Spain’s players feel they must succeed in spite of head coach Jorge Vilda and the Spanish federation, rather than as a unified team empowered by those around them.

They join a long history of women’s soccer teams galvanized by adverse forces around them, presenting a harsh reality about what their success might mean for the sport in Spain going forward.

In September 2022, 15 players of the Spanish first team sent letters to RFEF, Spain’s football federation. In similarly worded messages, each player asked not to be selected for the team’s upcoming October friendlies, saying that conditions in their international environment had compromised their physical and emotional health. Until those issues were resolved, they said they would not represent Spain at the senior level.

RFEF responded with a scathing rebuttal, saying they would not “allow any kind of pressure from players” in the context of sporting or staffing decisions. The federation demanded apologies before allowing any of what came to be known as “Las 15” to return to the team. A number of those players were from FC Barcelona, including Aitana Bonmati and Mariona Caldantey, who have since returned to their international side. Spanish superstar Alexia Putellas was not a member of “Las 15,” though she joined the chorus of players who took issue with the federation’s response. The two-time Ballon d’Or winner was also injured and unavailable for selection at the time.

From the outside, what happened next appeared to be a splintering of the larger group in protest. With the World Cup on the horizon, players like Bonmati and Caldantey returned to the fold, and Putellas returned from injury without any official comment on her stance. But Barcelona standouts Mapi Leon, Patri Guijarro and Claudia Pina stuck to their principles and withdrew their names from World Cup roster selection. Going into the tournament, Spain had two roads in front of them, and the nuances of knockout soccer have allowed them to advance despite those glaring absences.

Through it all, Vilda has remained in charge, though glimpses into team interactions indicate he’s still not a popular figure in Spain camp. He searched for a friendly handshake from players to no avail on the television broadcast after the team’s win over the Netherlands, and Putellas refused handshakes from the entire Spain coaching staff after being subbed off against Sweden.

It’s impossible to tell how much impact Vilda’s coaching has had on Spain’s success throughout the tournament, but the players have seemed to persevere beyond actual game tactics by finding ways to win late in matches. In the semifinal, that came in the form of two goals in nine minutes to overcome a Sweden equalizer and close out the win in regulation. In the final, Spain dominated possession for most of the game and had chances to extend their lead, including a Jenni Hermoso penalty kick in the 69th minute that England goalkeeper Mary Earps saved.

So, what is there to make of Spain’s ascension to World Cup glory for the first time?

USWNT forward Christen Press said while co-hosting the RE-CAP show that she hopes a win would give players leverage to argue their case more fervently with RFEF. Others fear that the success will give Vilda a cover to continue on as manager, despite the stress his presence places on those same players. The concern is justified, as federation president Luis Rubiales reportedly said of “Las 15” after Spain’s semifinal win, “We have forgotten those who have resentment and who do not add up, who are few.”

What is certain is that not even the ultimate victory is likely to alter the course of Spain’s future, with players once again having to make the best decisions for themselves after the confetti falls. It’s a sad reward for athletes who should be shining examples of progress, rather than new examples of forcing those in power to listen to athletes in women’s sports.

Claire Watkins is a Staff Writer at Just Women’s Sports. Follow her on Twitter @ScoutRipley.

The Spain women’s national team played in its first Women’s World Cup in 2015. Eight years later, La Roja have won their first title.

Olga Carmona provided the lone goal of the game for either team in the 29th minute. The Real Madrid defender sent a low strike across the goalmouth and into the far corner past England goalkeeper Mary Earps. While Earps made several spectacular saves from that point to keep the Lionesses within striking distance, they never found the equalizer.

Spain played the entire tournament under the shadow of a dispute between players and the national federation. In September 2022, 15 players sent a letter to the Spanish federation calling out issues within the program, including with the coaching staff; just three of those players were selected to coach Jorge Vilda’s World Cup roster.

FINAL: Spain 1, England 0

La Roja win their first World Cup title and their first major international trophy, avenging their loss to England in the quarterfinal round of the 2022 Euros.

90′: Alexia Putellas enters as substitute for Spain

The two-time reigning Ballon d’Or winner comes in from the bench for extra time, replacing Mariona Caldentey.

76′: England’s Lauren James comes close to equalizer

Spain goalkeeper Cata Coll leapt to get a hand on James’ shot from the left side, tipping the ball up and over the crossbar.

69′: England’s Mary Earps stops penalty kick

Spain received a penalty kick courtesy of a handball by England midfielder Keira Walsh, but Earps wrapped up Jenni Hermoso’s shot.

“I do my own research and I’m not going to reveal it here,” Earps told The Athletic earlier in the tournament. “It is a free shot from 12 yards so the striker should score every single time. My job is to make it as difficult as possible and give myself the best chance to save it. We definitely prepared for penalties.”

46′: England brings in Lauren James as substitute

England manager Sarina Wiegman brings on fresh legs, sending in James and Chloe Kelly in place of Alessia Russo and Rachel Daly. Spain sticks with its first-half lineup.

HALF: Spain 1, England 0

Spain dominated the first 45 minutes, controlling possession for 64% of the first half. While Hemp managed several chances for the Lionesses, La Roja used their speed and pinpoint passing to get behind the defense.

England’s come-from-behind win against Colombia in the quarterfinal round stands as the only come-from-behind win of the knockout stage. Can the Lionesses repeat that performance in the championship match?

29′: Spain takes 1-0 lead courtesy of Olga Carmona

Carmona scored the game-winner against Sweden in the semifinal, and she struck first in the World Cup final, giving her team a first-half lead over England.

The 23-year-old forward lifted her jersey in celebration to show a message penned in marker on her Adidas undershirt: “MERCHI,” a tribute to a good friend’s mother who recently passed away.

17′: Spain nearly scores on counterattack

A breakout start for La Roja at the 2023 World Cup, Salma Paralluelo had a look at the goal, but her shot missed wide right. Alba Redondo followed with a shot of her own, but England goalkeeper Mary Earps made the stop.

16′: England’s Lauren Hemp hits crossbar

The 23-year-old forward created another chance for the Lionesses, but the ball bounced off the crossbar.

5′: England’s Lauren Hemp notches first shot

Lauren Hemp, who has three goals in the tournament, sent the first shot of the match toward Spain goalkeeper Cata Coll, but Coll handled it easily.

Starting XI: Spain’s Alexia Putellas and England’s Lauren James start on bench

  • Spain
    • Goalkeeper: Cata Coll
    • Defenders: Olga Carmona, Laia Codina, Irene Paredes, Ona Batlle
    • Midfielders: Jenni Hermoso, Teresa Abelleira, Aitana Bonmatí
    • Forwards: Mariona Caldentey, Salma Paralluelo, Alba Redondo
  • England
    • Goalkeeper: Mary Earps
    • Defenders: Alex Greenwood, Millie Bright, Jessica Carter
    • Midfielders: Rachel Daly, Keira Walsh, Ella Toone, Georgia Stanway, Lucy Bronze
    • Forwards: Lauren Hemp, Alessia Russo

Each team faced one big question heading into the World Cup final. For Spain: Should two-time reigning Ballon d’Or winner Alexia Putellas, who is still working her way back to full fitness from an ACL tear, get the nod? For England: Should Lauren James, who is returning from a two-game red card suspension, move back into the starting lineup?

Each team ended up with the same answer: No. Both Putellas and James are starting the match on the bench in favor of Spain’s Salma Paralluelo and England’s Ella Toone.

What to know about Spain

  • Spain is caught up in World Cup controversy, with players and the national federation at odds. In September, 15 Spanish players declined call-ups until their issues with coach Jorge Vilda and the national team were met. While some players have since returned, others remained off the roster.
  • While the controversy has overshadowed Spain’s World Cup run, USWNT star Christen Press still is finding a way to root for La Roja, saying: “I think that the hope is that the more success the team has, the bigger voice and the more respect that they get from their country.”
  • Salma Paralluelo has had a magical tournament for Spain. The 19-year-old forward has scored off the bench in each of the last two games, and she’ll look to continue her scoring streak in the World Cup final.

What to know about England

  • England head coach Sarina Wiegman is in her second consecutive World Cup final after leading the Netherlands to a runner-up finish in 2019. And she’s planning to stick with the Lionesses, she said Friday, despite her name being connected to the open USWNT head coaching position.
  • Lauren James will return for the Lionesses from the two-game ban she received for her red card against Nigeria, which she earned by stepping on the back of Nigeria’s Michelle Alozie in the Round of 16. Before missing the last two rounds of the World Cup, the 21-year-old forward had been electric for England, leading the team with three goals and assisting on three more.
  • Alessia Russo represents not just England but also a long legacy of North Carolina Tar Heels legends, including USWNT stars Mia Hamm and Crystal Dunn. She shared the No. 19 Tar Heels jersey with both players, and she honored them while playing for UNC with patches on her sleeves.

When and how to watch

  • Sunday, Aug. 20 @ 6 a.m. ET
    • Spain vs. England (Stadium Australia, Sydney)

The 2023 World Cup final is available to watch on Fox, Telemundo and Universo. It also can be streamed on the Fox Sports app and on Peacock.

Spain will face England in the World Cup final at 6 a.m. ET Sunday, Aug. 20. Yet while both teams have taken impressive journeys through the tournament, oddsmakers believe Spain is the favorite.

La Roja held the early advantage, with -116 odds compared to -102 for England in the immediate aftermath of the semifinal matches, per FanDuel. Spain’s Jenni Hermoso and Alexia Putellas are the favorites to score a goal in the match, with +230 odds. England’s Alessia Russo comes next with +260 odds.

The teams advanced to the championship after a couple dramatic matches in the semifinal round.

Spain and Sweden were both scoreless when Salma Paralluelo broke the tie in the 81st minute. Rebecka Blomqvist evened the score for Sweden in the 88th minute, but Olga Carmona netted the game-winner the following minute to send Spain to the final.

England, meanwhile, defeated host Australia, 3-1, with a pair of goals in the final 20 minutes. Australian striker Sam Kerr evened the score at 1 in the 63rd minute, but Lauren Hemp and Alessia Russo scored once each for England.

Both teams will play in their first World Cup final; England had made it to the semifinals each of the past two World Cups, but lost before reaching the championship.

In the third-place match, set for 4 a.m. ET Saturday, Aug. 19, home team Australia stands as the slight favorite at -120 compared to -110 for Sweden, per FanDuel.