Women's Hockey World Cup: History, Old & New Formats, Past Winners

The International Hockey Federation (FIH) has organized the competition since its merging with the International Federation of Women's Hockey Associations (IFWHA) in 1982.

The Netherlands won the FIH Women's Hockey World Cup 2022 (Image Credits - FIH)
By Abhiruchi Rout | Jan 29, 2023 | 4 Min Read follow icon Follow Us

The International Hockey Federation, popularly known as the FIH, organizes the Hockey World Cup, the major international field hockey competition. Paul Leautey, a Frenchman, started the men’s event in 1924. It has been hosted every four years, in between the Summer Olympics, since 1971. Austria, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, France, Hungary, Spain, and Switzerland were the six founder members of the World Cup, with women’s and men’s teams representing their country. The International Federation of Women’s Hockey Association (IFWHA), which managed the competition until 1981, hosted the Women’s Hockey World Cup for the first time in 1974.

The Women’s Hockey World Cup is the field hockey World Cup tournament for the women. The format of the women’s tournament is similar to the men’s competition. The number of teams (16) competing in both the men’s and women’s world cups are also same. The recent edition of the tournament took place at the Estadi Olímpic de Terrassa in Terrassa, Spain and at the Wagener Stadium in Amstelveen, the Netherlands from July 1 to July 17, 2022. The 15th edition of the competition was won by the Netherlands for the ninth-time ever, after the team defeated Argentina by 3-1 in the final. Australia won the third place playoff against Germany by 2-1.


The Women’s Hockey World Cup has been held since the year 1974. The International Hockey Federation (FIH) has organized the competition since its merging with the International Federation of Women’s Hockey Associations (IFWHA) in 1982. It has been consistently contested once every four years since 1986, coinciding with the men’s competition and taking place in the transition year between the Summer Olympic Games.

Old Format

The Hockey World Cup is divided into two stages: qualification and the final competition. The qualification round is played by all of the participating teams. The groups of teams compete in one or more pools for a spot in the main tournament.  The top two teams automatically qualify, and the remaining spots are filled through playoffs. Along with other qualified teams, the continental champions compete in the final competition. It occasionally includes the continental runners-up as well as the winners of the hockey competition from the Summer Olympics.

In the final tournament, the teams again split up into pools and compete in a round robin format. The FIH World Rankings are used to determine the composition of the pools. The top two teams from each pool compete for a spot in the final in the semifinals, while the bottom two teams compete for third place. Other teams will compete in playoffs to determine their final standing. The teams compete for fifth place if they finish third or fourth in their pool. The teams compete for ninth place if they finish fifth or sixth in their pool.

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New Format

In the group stage, each team will play the teams selected in their pool once. The teams who finish first in their three-match group will receive a direct entry into the quarterfinals, while the teams that finish second and third will compete in crossover matches to progress. Teams who lose their crossover will advance to the crossovers in positions 9 through 16. While, the teams that win their crossover advance to the quarterfinals. The winners of the quarterfinals progress to the semifinals, and the winners of the semifinals advance to the decisive title match. The bronze medal playoff will be played between the losing semifinalist teams.

Size of the Tournament

The tournament’s size has evolved throughout time. Ten nations (the fewest) competed in the 1974 and 1978 World Cups, while eleven nations competed in the 1976 World Cup. The maximum number of nations at a World Cup was 16 in 2002. 12 countries have participated in the subsequent seven World Cups. In 2018, the World Cup was once more increased to 16 teams. In the near future, the FIH hopes to expand the number of competitors to 24.

List of Past Winners

YearWinnerRunner UpThird Place
2022The NetherlandsArgentinaAustralia
2018The NetherlandsIrelandSpain
2014The NetherlandsAustraliaArgentina
2010ArgentinaThe NetherlandsEngland
2006The NetherlandsAustraliaArgentina
2002ArgentinaThe NetherlandsChina
1998AustraliaThe NetherlandsGermany
1994AustraliaArgentinaUnited States
1990The NetherlandsAustraliaSouth Korea
1986The NetherlandsWest GermanyCanada
1983The NetherlandsCanadaAustralia
1981West GermanyThe NetherlandsSoviet Union
1978The NetherlandsWest GermanyBelgium
1976West GermanyArgentinaThe Netherlands
1974The NetherlandsArgentinaWest Germany

Most Successful Team

The Netherlands has been the most successful team, winning the title nine times in 13 final appearances and one third-place finish. Only four of the 29 countries competing have won the Women’s Hockey World Cup in its 15 iterations. Argentina, Australia, and Germany, which previously competed as West Germany, are the next most successful teams, having won the women’s hockey world cup twice each. The Argentina have also made appearances in six finals and have won the third place on three occasions.

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