1988 FIFA Women's Invitation Tournament (partially found footage of international football matches; 1988)

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Programme for the tournament.

Status: Partially Found

The 1988 FIFA Women's Invitation Tournament was an international football competition held in China from 1st-12th June. The Final saw an all-Scandinavian encounter, with Norway defeating Sweden 1-0. The tournament marked a pivotal step for the FIFA Women's World Cup, as it convinced FIFA that such a tournament could be commercially viable.


Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, women's football was beginning to grow again after bans on the sport from various countries started being lifted.[1] For instance, two unofficial World Cups were held in 1970 and 1971, while a few Mundialito tournaments occurred during the 1980s.[1] Despite this, FIFA was still not interested in women's football, seeing it as unmarketable and with some members concerned that women might not be to biologically cope with the impacts a football match brings.[1] However, following pressure from various sides, including a 1986 speech at the 45th FIFA Congress by Norwegian Football Federation member Ellen Wille, FIFA reluctantly began experimenting on the viability of a women's international tournament.[2][3][1] To that end, it created the 1988 FIFA Women's Invitation Tournament, whose success was required if a proper FIFA Women's World Cup was to be sanctioned and organised.[1][3]

12 nations from all continents were invited to compete.[4][5][1][3] Among the competing teams included CAF's Ivory Coast; AFC's China, Japan, and Thailand; CONMEBOL's Brazil; OFC's Australia; UEFA's Czechoslovakia, Netherlands, reigning UEFA Women's Euros champion Norway, and Sweden; and CONCACAF's Canada and the United States.[4][1][3][5] China was also selected for hosting duties; this likely occurred as the country was not then known for its football history, allowing FIFA to gauge the competition's performance in a rather controlled environment.[1][3][4] Ultimately, the tournament was considered a commercial and critical success, drawing sizable crowds for matches.[3][1][5] Therefore, FIFA was finally convinced to create a full-scale global women's competition.[1][3][5] It announced eighteen days post-tournament that a new competition would emerge in 1991, to again be held in China.[6][1][3][5] Initially, it remained reluctant to apply the World Cup brand to the tournament, coining it instead the "1st FIFA World Championship for Women's Football for the M&M's Cup".[1][3][5] However, its overarching success led to it eventually being renamed to the 1991 FIFA Women's World Cup.[1][3][5]

The Tournament

In Group A, hosts China was the only team in the tournament to win all three group matches.[4] The country defeated Canada 2-0, before edging out Netherlands 1-0.[4] After that, it ended its group campaign with an 8-1 triumph over Ivory Coast.[4] The battle for second heated up between Canada and the Netherlands, the North American side holding the goal difference advantage as they had a superior result over Ivory Coast, 6-0 compared to 3-0.[4] Canada therefore required just a point to qualify, doing so with a 1-1 draw against the Netherlands.[4]

Group B was evenly matched between Australia, Brazil, and Norway.[4][5] All three proved too much for Thailand, winning 3-0, 9-0, and 4-0 respectively.[4][5] Australia initially held the advantage thanks to a 1-0 victory over Brazil.[5][4] They had achieved this early when a through pass reached forward Janice Reddington, who chipped the ball over the Brazilian goalkeeper to give her side the lead.[5][4] However, Brazil fought back, defeating Norway 2-1.[4] Norway required a win to reached the Knockouts stage, doing so with a 3-0 win over Australia.[5][4] Thus, all three teams were on four points each, but Brazil and Norway were first and second in the group respectively by virtue of goal difference.[4]

Finally, Group C witnessed United States getting off to a strong start, defeating Japan 5-2.[4] Meanwhile, Sweden edged out Czechoslovakia 1-0, courtesy of a 79th minute strike from substitute Helene Johansson (now Helene Björk).[7][4] Sweden held the United States to a 1-1 draw, Anneli Andelén's 18th minute strike cancelling out Debby Belkin's goal two minutes earlier.[8][4] Czechoslovakia had another tense game, but this time came out on top with a 2-1 win against Japan.[4] The team would also hold the United States to a goalless draw; this allowed Sweden to top the group, defeating Japan 3-0 thanks to goals from Lena Videkull, Johansson, and Anneli Gustafsson.[9][4] The best two third-placed teams also qualified for the Last 8.[4] Hence, Australia and the Netherlands went through, the latter via a better goal difference compared to Czechoslovakia.[4]

In the first Quarter-Finals clash, a 5th minute header from Pia Sundhage was enough for Sweden to overcome Canada 1-0.[10][4] The China-Australia game was comparatively one-sided, the hosts thrashing the Aussies 7-0.[4][5] Meanwhile, the Netherlands initially gained the upper hand against Brazil courtesy of a header rolling into the goal.[4] However, a strong charge through the Dutch defence allowed a Brazilian forward to equalise.[4] In the second-half, a pass into the left side of the Dutch box allowed another successful strike, giving Brazil a 2-1 win.[4] Finally, the United States' run came to an abrupt end against Norway, its 1-0 loss occurring when a cross into the US box was actually tapped into the goal by a US defender.[4]

China and Sweden then fought for a place in the Final.[11][4] China initially took the lead when a corner was tapped in by Niu Li Jie after ten minutes.[4] 27 minutes later, a shot saved by the Chinese goalkeeper rebounded into the path of Gustafsson, who capitalised to level proceedings.[11][4] Early in the second-half, China's defence initially stopped a Swedish attack, but crucially gave the ball away to Johansson. Johansson achieved a 25-yard right-foot strike to seal a 2-1 win.[11][4] Norway meanwhile capitalised on a poor goal kick, Linda Medalen passing to Ellen Scheel so the latter could take a 1-0 lead against Brazil.[4] Brazil were not eliminated yet though, returning to even stevens via a free kick in the second-half.[4] Ultimately, it was another goalkeeping error that cost Brazil, as a strike from Scheel slipped under the goalkeeper's body.[4] Norway therefore won 2-1.[4] Nevertheless, Brazil won the third-place playoff, winning 4-3 on penalties following a goalless result against China.[4]

On 12th June, the all-Scandinavian Final took place at the Tianhe Stadium in front of between 30,000-36,000.[12][13][4] The match proved an exciting affair, with both sides missing numerous close chances that led to a goalless first-half.[12][13][4] The second-half initially proved much of the same, until in the 58th minute when Medalen broke through the Swedish defence and beat goalkeeper Elisabeth Leidinge to give Norway a 1-0 lead.[12][13][4] Sweden responded with several near-misses, one free-kick rebounding from the crossbar and another narrowly saved by the fingertips of the Norwegian goalkeeper Hege Ludvigsen. Norway nearly doubled their lead when a right-hand volley hit Leidinge's leg and rebounded off the post. Then, with just seconds remaining, Sweden suffered massive misfortune searching for that elusive equaliser. Camilla Andersson had managed to breach the defence and land a volley, which was blocked only by the right post. It rebounded into the path of Gustafsson, who had an open goal in front of her. Ultimately, her chip went over the bar. That miss was the final shot of the game, Norway earning its second major international crown in two years.[12][13][4]


Based on available footage, the matches were televised by Guangdong Television (GDTV). However, none of the broadcasts have fully resurfaced outside of the Australia-Brazil encounter, which oddly featured no commentary. Nevertheless, confirmation that the other matches received television coverage came from an English documentary lasting 50 minutes, containing various match highlights, particularly of the Final.



Documentary providing highlights of the tournament.

Australia vs Brazil.

FIFA documentary summarising the tournament's success.

Documentary on Australia at the tournament.

Women's Soccer Stories documentary on the tournament (video in French, but with English subtitles).

See Also


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 US Sports History detailing the prelude towards the creation of the 1988 FIFA Women's Invitation Tournament. Retrieved 24th Feb '23
  2. France24 detailing Wille's speech which forced pressure on FIFA to take women's football more seriously. Retrieved 24th Feb '23
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 3.8 3.9 Unlocking the Hidden History summarising the tournament and its success in convincing FIFA. Retrieved 24th Feb '23
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 4.12 4.13 4.14 4.15 4.16 4.17 4.18 4.19 4.20 4.21 4.22 4.23 4.24 4.25 4.26 4.27 4.28 4.29 4.30 4.31 4.32 4.33 4.34 4.35 4.36 4.37 4.38 4.39 4.40 RSSSF detailing the results of the tournament. Retrieved 24th Feb '23
  5. 5.00 5.01 5.02 5.03 5.04 5.05 5.06 5.07 5.08 5.09 5.10 5.11 5.12 Football Australia summarising Australia's run in the tournament. Retrieved 24th Feb '23
  6. 1st July 1988 issue of El Mundo Deportivo reporting on the tournament's success and its plan to host another competition in China for 1991 (article in Spanish). Retrieved 24th Feb '23
  7. Svensk Fotboll detailing the Sweden-Czechoslovakia result. Retrieved 24th Feb '23
  8. Svensk Fotboll detailing the Sweden-United States result. Retrieved 24th Feb '23
  9. Svensk Fotboll detailing the Sweden-Japan result. Retrieved 24th Feb '23
  10. Svensk Fotboll detailing the Sweden-Canada result. Retrieved 24th Feb '23
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Svensk Fotboll detailing the Sweden-China result. Retrieved 24th Feb '23
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 Svensk Fotboll detailing the Sweden-Norway result. Retrieved 24th Feb '23
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 Archived Norges Fotballforbund detailing the Sweden-Norway result. Retrieved 24th Feb '23