December 3 – Spain claimed their first-ever U-17 Women’s World Cup after defeating Mexico 2-1 in Montevideo. They succeed North Korea as world champions.
The tiny Charrua stadium in the Uruguayan capital was packed with VIPS: FIFA president Gianni Infantino had jetted in from Buenos Aires, where he had tried to wow world leaders at the G-20 submit. In football circles, his grandiose show fell flat. FIFA vice-president Alejandro Dominguez, FIFA’s chief women’s football officer Sarai Bareman and Uruguayan legend Diego Forlan were also in attendance. Forlan carried the trophy into the stadium.
The Europeans dominated the final from the start. Spain, coached by Tona Is, had gone into the showpiece match as favourites and they lived up to that tag. Claudia Pina opened the scoring in the 16th minute with her sixth goal of the tournament and before the half-hour mark she doubled Spain’s lead, 2-0. Mexico responded immediately with a header from Denise Castro to reduce the deficit, but in a lively second half the Mexicans failed to equalise.
“It’s indescribable,” said Is. “I can’t begin to tell you what it feels like because I don’t know myself. This is a special moment, absolutely one-of-a-kind and we know that what it means for girls all over the world, for Spain’s women’s football, this is massive.”
New Zealand won the bronze medal. A brace from Grace Wisnewski ensured a narrow 2-1 win against Canada.
“Regardless of the result today we’ve had an amazing campaign,” said New Zealand coach Leon Birnie. “The bronze is the icing on the cake and completes what’s been an outstanding tournament for these girls. I don’t think there was a player in our squad that didn’t think we could win today. There are a lot of young female players that have seen what these girls have done and who will be inspired to get involved and play football and at the end of the day that’s a really positive thing.”
Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at email@example.com