Former Spanish soccer federation chief Rubiales will stand trial on charges of sexual assault and coercion for his unsolicited kiss of Jenni Hermoso after last year's Women’s World Cup final, a judge confirmed this week.

Back in January, Judge Francisco de Jorge recommended that Rubiales be held accountable for his 2023 actions, calling the kiss "unconsented and carried out unilaterally and in a surprising fashion" and within the bounds of "intimacy of sexual relations." On Wednesday, Spain’s National Court ruled that Rubiales should indeed stand trial.

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Rubiales has repeatedly denied wrongdoing, saying the kiss was consensual. Hermoso, meanwhile, defined the incident, which occurred during the WWC medal ceremony, as "unexpected and at no time consensual."

Public prosecutors and lawyers for the Spanish Women's National Football Team star and Women's World Cup champion are seeking two and a half years of prison time for Rubiales: one year for sexual assault, and an additional 18 months for participating in coercion.

Rubiales is alleged to have pressured Hermoso into showing support for him following the kiss. Three other officials — including former women's national team head coach Jorge Vilda — are also facing coercion charges that could result in 18 months in prison. 

A trial date has yet to be set. Last October, FIFA banned Rubiales from all football activity for three years. The sentence will be in place through the 2026 Men’s World Cup, but will have expired by the time the 2027 Women's World Cup begins.

Brazil has officially become the favorite to host the 2027 Women's World Cup after FIFA’s technical inspection team awarded them a higher rating than the joint European bid. 

After the US and Mexico dropped out of the running last month, the bid from Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands had previously been pegged to win hosting rights for the next Women's World Cup. But FIFA's latest report shows that Brazil was given a score of 4.0 out of 5 in its technical evaluation, besting the European contender's score of 3.7.

Brazil ranked higher in a number of key areas, including stadiums, accommodations, fan zones, and transport infrastructure. The country is aiming to reuse 10 of the venues used for the 2014 Men's World Cup in 2027, with the final set to take place in Rio de Janeiro. 

"The Bid Evaluation Report reflects the comprehensive evaluation model that has become a hallmark of FIFA’s enhanced bidding processes for men’s and women’s flagship events, which incorporates a variety of criteria, ranging from event vision and key metrics, infrastructure, services, commercial aspects, and sustainability and human rights," FIFA wrote in a press release.

The report also highlighted the fact that this would be the first Women's World Cup in South America, noting that the decision could "have a tremendous impact on women's football in the region."

Should the EU bid win, it wouldn't be the first WWC in Europe, as Germany played host to the event in 2011 before France in 2019. There could also be further complications for the Germany-Belgium-Netherlands bid: In its report, the evaluation team regarded the bid's legal and contractual framework as "high-risk."

FIFA has promised more planning time for the 2031 Women's World Cup. While the Men's World Cup hosts have already been secured through 2034, the WWC is only three years away with a host yet to be named.

The final vote is set to take place at the 74th FIFA Congress in Bangkok on May 17th. It will be the first time FIFA determines a World Cup host via an open vote.

The United States and Mexico have withdrawn their joint bid to host the 2027 Women’s World Cup, per a Monday afternoon release from U.S. Soccer and the Mexican Football Federation.

According to the statement, they will instead focus on developing a "more equitable" bid for the 2031 tournament, with the ultimate goal of "eliminating investment disparities" between the men’s and women’s tournaments.

The federations went on to cite the upcoming 2026 Men’s World Cup in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico as an opportunity to build support for local infrastructure, improve audience engagement, and scale up media and partnership deals in preparation to "host a record-breaking tournament in 2031."

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"Hosting a World Cup tournament is a huge undertaking — and having additional time to prepare allows us to maximize its impact across the globe," said U.S. Soccer President Cindy Parlow Cone. "Shifting our bid will enable us to host a record-breaking Women’s World Cup in 2031 that will help to grow and raise the level of the women’s game both here at home as well as across the globe."

The decision leaves just Brazil and a joint bid from Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands in the running for the 2027 host spot. Brazil — the rumored frontrunner — has never hosted a Women’s World Cup, while Germany hosted the 2011 tournament as a solo venture. 

Furthermore, this postponement doesn’t mean the U.S. is a shoo-in for 2031, as it's been previously reported that 2022 UEFA Women's EURO host England is considering their own Women's World Cup bid. FIFA is scheduled to confirm the winning bid after the FIFA Congress votes on May 17th.

Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands are submitting a bid to FIFA to host the 2027 Women’s World Cup, the countries’ football associations said Friday.

Brazil submitted their bid to host last month, while the United States and Mexico have also expressed interest.

Friday is the deadline for member associations to submit their bids to FIFA. South Africa had also submitted a bid, but withdrew that last month in favor of presenting a “well-prepared bid” for the 2031 World Cup.

“Extensive and detailed consultations between the three federations along with key stakeholders including central governments dates back to 2021,” the Dutch football federation (KNVB) said in a statement. “This has led to alignment around the belief that our three countries are well placed to stage a FIFA Women’s World Cup 2027 of unparalleled quality and impact.”

Bid cities for the countries’ bid include Brussels, the capital of Belgium; Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands; as well as Düsseldorf and Cologne Germany.

FIFA will conduct on-site inspection visits to bidding countries in February. FIFA Congress will then appoint the 2027 World Cup hosts in May.

Germany has hosted the Women’s World Cup once before, back in 2011, after having won the 2003 and 2007 editions of the World Cup.

This year, Australia and New Zealand hosted the World Cup, which was won by Spain.

Just Women’s Sports is here with your daily World Cup Digest, breaking down all of the biggest storylines from each day of action in Australia and New Zealand.

Today’s top World Cup story: Sweden escapes upset thanks to 90th minute goal

Sweden pulled off a dramatic, come-from-behind victory on Sunday in its World Cup opener against South Africa. Amanda Ilestedt scored the game winner in the 90th minute to secure a 2-1 victory and 3 points for Sweden, ranked No. 3 in the world.

While Sweden controlled possession for much of the game, No. 54 South Africa nearly pulled off a major upset in rainy and misty conditions at Wellington Regional Stadium in Wellington, New Zealand.

Three minutes into the second half, and with Swedish players looking as if play hadn’t yet resumed, South African striker Hildah Magaia capitalized on a rebound to make it 1-0. But Magaia injured herself in the process, falling hard into the back of the net, and was ultimately subbed out a few minutes later.

Sweden notched the equalizer in the 66th minute. A cross in the box initially appeared to ricochet off the foot of a defender, but the goal was ultimately credited to Fridolina Rolfo.

With the two teams even, Ilestedt notched the game winner in the 90th minute, capitalizing off of the 11th corner of the night and heading the ball past the fingers of goalkeeper Kaylin Swart. (A video highlight of the game winner is embedded below.)

South Africa managed to secure a corner during the six minutes of injury time that followed, but couldn’t find the equalizer.

With the win, Sweden continues its group play streak. The Swedes haven’t lost a group game at the Women’s World Cup since 2003. Meanwhile, South Africa — which made its Women’s World Cup debut in 2019 — is still searching for its first ever point after losing all three group stage games four years ago.

In the lead-up to this year’s Women’s World Cup, the South African team — nicknamed Banyana Banyana — boycotted a World Cup send-off game, citing issues with its federation after a $30,000 FIFA payment had not been included in player contracts. Ahead of their tournament opener against Sweden, South African captain Refiloe Jane told reporters that disputes with the federation had been resolved prior to players arriving in New Zealand.

Today’s World Cup results

  • Sweden 2, South Africa 1
  • Netherlands 1, Portugal 0
  • France 0, Jamaica 0

More World Cup news

  • Jamaica held France to a scoreless draw, a remarkable performance for a Jamaican team that criticized its federation ahead of this year’s tournament, citing issues with training facilities and compensation.
  • In yet another close game, the Netherlands, the 2019 runner-up, defeated World Cup debutant Portugal, 1-0. The game winner, scored by Stefanie van der Gragt, came in the 13th minute.

The 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup is underway. To help you stay up-to-date on news, game schedules, roster updates and more, Just Women’s Sports has created this World Cup hub. Make sure to bookmark this page so you can keep tabs on the latest news and updates from Australia and New Zealand.

Latest World Cup News

July 23, 2023:

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July 20, 2023:

July 19, 2023:

How to Watch the 2023 World Cup

The 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup began on July 20 and runs through August 20. A complete tournament schedule can be found here.

WWC Scouting Reports

Who made the 2023 U.S. World Cup roster?

Here is the U.S. Soccer roster for the 2023 Women’s World Cup:

Goalkeepers (3)

Defenders (7)

Midfielders (7)

Forwards (6)

If you want to learn more about the 23 players who made the USWNT by experience level or their NWSL team, we’ve got you covered:

What about WWC rosters for the rest of the world?

Which USA players are missing the Women’s World Cup?

Injuries have sidelined quite a few players from this summer’s tournament, while other athletes have fallen out of favor with the national teams since the 2019 World Cup. Here are a few resources on the topic:

Who are the USWNT captains?

With Becky Sauerbrunn absent due to injury, U.S. head coach Vlatko Andonovski selected Lindsey Horan and Alex Morgan to serve as co-captains. Read more about their selection here.

For the latest news and analysis, follow our dedicate homepages for the USWNT and the Women’s World Cup.

2023 Women’s World Cup Groups and Tournament Format

The Women’s World Cup field expanded from 24 teams to 32 teams for 2023. The 32 teams are split into eight groups of four:

  • Group A: New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Switzerland
  • Group B: Australia, Ireland, Nigeria, Canada
  • Group C: Spain, Costa Rica, Zambia, Japan
  • Group D: England, Denmark, China, Haiti
  • Group E: United States, Netherlands, Portugal, Vietnam
  • Group F: France, Jamaica, Brazil, Panama
  • Group G: Sweden, South Africa, Italy, Argentina
  • Group H: Germany, Morocco, Colombia, South Korea

The top two teams from each group will advance to a 16-team bracket for the knockout rounds. More information about the tournament format and tie breaking procedures can be found here.

The 2023 Women’s World Cup kicks off in less than a week. Stay tuned to all of the action in Australia and New Zealand this summer by signing up for “Match Day Memos” with Hannah Waddingham.

From today through Aug. 20, the award-winning “Ted Lasso” actress will deliver inspirational video reminders ahead of this summer’s most exciting games to ensure fans never miss a match. The videos will also highlight how watching and supporting women’s sports can contribute to much-needed change for cultural equality.

Johnnie Walker is donating $100,000 to its nonprofit partner, the Women’s Sports Foundation, to support the critical work they are doing to expand access and opportunities for women in sport so they can play, compete and lead without barriers.

Anyone 21 and older can text EQUITY to 24272 for automatic game day video reminders so you never miss a match!

Read the full press release on Just Women’s Sports‘ partnership with Johnnie Walker here.

Read more from Just Women’s Sports:

After Crystal Dunn was cut from the USWNT roster for the 2015 World Cup, Megan Rapinoe was there to support her.

“She was somebody who just welcomed me so much, (with) open arms,” Dunn reflected on Saturday after Rapinoe announced that she plans to retire at the conclusion of the 2023 NWSL season.

“(Pinoe) is an incredible person, human being, friend, teammate,” Dunn said in a video posted to Twitter by Women Kick Balls, getting choked up. “I just love her so much. She’s been so key for me in my career.”

Dunn said she made Rapinoe a promise heading into the World Cup year.

“One thing I did tell her at the beginning of this year is, ‘I have no idea if this is your last one, but I’m going to do whatever it takes to get myself into a place where I can help this team win. And, obviously, send her off the way she deserves (as) the queen that she is.”

Alex Morgan echoed that sentiment. The newly announced U.S. co-captain told reporters that when Rapinoe texted the group, she immediately knew how to reply: “Well, now we just have to win the whole damn thing.”

The head coach of Zambia’s national women’s soccer team, Bruce Mwape, is facing allegations of sexual misconduct less than two weeks before the 2023 Women’s World Cup begins.

The Guardian reported on Saturday that Mwape, who was appointed in 2018, and U17 women’s head coach Kaluba Kangwa have both been accused of sexual misconduct.

“If he [Mwape] wants to sleep with someone, you have to say yes,” an unnamed player told the Guardian. “It’s normal that the coach sleeps with the players in our team.”

Claims of sexual abuse by Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) employees were raised last year. In September 2022, the Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) said it referred an investigation to FIFA and the police after allegations of sexual misconduct were made on social media, but did not disclose which or how many employees were under investigation.

“Although we have no record of official complaints from anyone on the allegations, we consider these allegations very serious and have opened an inquiry into the matter,” FAZ general secretary, Adrian Kashala, said at the time. “We shall collaborate with the Zambia Police Service and other relevant stakeholders in dealing with this matter.”

The Guardian reported that players have received threats of punishment if they spoke out about the alleged harassment.

In a statement to the Guardian, FIFA said it could not comment on ongoing investigations and that any information the ethics committee decides to share will be communicated at its discretion.

Just Women’s Sports also reached out to FIFA for comment on how the organization handles these types of investigations, what steps (if any) are taken to protect players from retaliation, and whether FIFA still plans to provide Mwape with a credential for the upcoming Women’s World Cup.

FIFA said the relevant representative was not immediately available to comment.

Zambia is making its Women’s World Cup debut this summer. In a World Cup tune-up match on Friday, Zambia, ranked 77th in the world, pulled off a major upset against No. 2 Germany thanks to an incredible stoppage time goal from captain Barbra Banda.

This is a developing story and will be updated accordingly.

Ahead of the USWNT’s World Cup sendoff game, Megan Rapinoe on Saturday made an unexpected appearance on the press conference stage.

“It’s with a really deep sense of peace and gratitude and excitement that I want to share with you guys that it’s gonna be my last season,” Rapinoe said.

Rapinoe, who is competing in her fourth World Cup this summer, said she plans to retire at the conclusion of the 2023 NWSL season.

Rapinoe will finish her career as one of the greatest soccer players — and most influential athlete activists — of all time. The 38-year-old is a two-time World Cup champion (2015, 2019), Olympic gold medalist (2012), and winner of the 2019 Ballon d’Or Feminin. She also helped her OL Reign club team win three NWSL regular season Shield titles (2014, 2015, 2022).

Along the way, she championed LGBTQ+ rights, the USWNT’s equal pay fight, abortion access and racial justice initiatives, and she forced U.S. soccer to reconsider its own policies related to athlete protest and free speech.

In 2022, she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom — the highest civilian honor in the United States — from President Joe Biden.

Rapinoe said her decision to announce her retirement in advance of the Women’s World Cup was influenced by watching her fiancée, WNBA legend Sue Bird, go through the process last year.

“It is incredibly rare for athletes of any stature to be able to do out on their own, in their own way, on their own terms,” Rapinoe noted.

“I’m really lucky to be in this position that I get to have agency over the end of this really beautiful part of my life.”