Who Will Win the World Cup Next, England Men or England Women?

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Two England Shields and a Football

Sarina Wiegman’s England side came very close to lifting the Women’s World Cup on 20th August 2023. They ultimately lost 1-0 to Spain, but they still came closer to winning football’s ultimate prize than any senior England side since the men’s team won the 1966 World Cup. But 1966 was a long time ago, and surely it’s about time football “came home”? But will it be the Three Lions or the Lionesses who win the World Cup for England?

In this article, we’ll take a look back at how the men’s and women’s England teams have fared at recent tournaments, then we’ll give our view on which of the sides will win England’s first World Cup since 1966… surely one of them will eventually, right?

England Men vs England Women (2011 to 2023)

Male v Female England Football Fan

Given the massive disparities in finances, facilities and professionalism between the men’s and women’s game, we didn’t think it would be fair to look at all post-1966 tournaments when comparing the men’s and women’s England sides. This is partly because the UEFA European Women’s Championship was only founded in 1982 and the Women’s World Cup only arrived in 1991. But also because in the early decades of international women’s football, it was so far removed from the men’s game that a comparison would seem rather pointless.

Instead we’ll take 2011 as our starting point, as this coincides with the inaugural season of the Women’s Super League (WSL), widely regarded as having revolutionised and professionalised the women’s game in England.

Men vs Women at the Euros

Year (Men/Women) Men’s Team Result Women’s Team Result
2012 (M) Quarter-finals
2013 (W) Group Stage
2016 (M) Round of 16
2017 (W) Semi-finals
2020 (M) Runners-up
2022 (W) Winners

We are focussing on the next England side to win the World Cup, but it’s useful to take a look back at how the sides have performed at the Euros in recent times too. Although Gareth Southgate’s England team came very close to winning Euro 2022, they couldn’t quite get over the line (and the less we say about the penalty shootout, the better!).

Sarina Wiegman’s Lionesses, however, showed the men how it’s done when they went all the way in 2022, albeit on home soil. Although the women didn’t perform well in 2013 (when they failed to win a game and went out at the group stage), it’s worth mentioning that they were losing finalists in Euro 2009. Their poor performance in 2013 can be viewed as something of a blip, especially given the subsequent semi-final and then tournament-winning performances in the next two Euros respectively.

The men’s side, meanwhile, last made the semis back in 1996 when the Euros were played in England. They clearly performed exceptionally well in 2020, but prior to that the men’s side had been somewhat underwhelming in the Euros in recent times.

Men vs Women at the World Cup

Year (Men/Women) Men’s Team Result Women’s Team Result
2010 (M) Round of 16
2011 (W) Quarter-finals
2014 (M) Group Stage
2015 (W) Third Place
2018 (M) Fourth Place
2019 (W) Fourth Place
2022 (M) Quarter-finals
2023 (W) Runners-up

We threw in the 2010 World Cup for the men to even things up at four tournaments each. But it is clear that the women’s side have the edge. Not least because the men have never made it past the semis (indeed, they haven’t since 1966), but also because the women have made it to at least the semis in the last three World Cups.

If we look a little deeper at the performances, we would argue that the England men’s side “only” making the quarters at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar doesn’t tell the whole story. Southgate’s men had had an excellent tournament to that point, but they faced a fantastically talented France side (who eventually lost in the final to Lionel Messi’s Argentina). England certainly held their own and had captain Harry Kane not fluffed his penalty (his second of the game) late on, the match would probably have gone to extra time and then… well, who knows.

Still, there’s no denying that, overall, the women’s side has performed better at the last four World Cups than the men.

Will Football Ever “Come Home”?

England Fans Celebrating Behind Flag

Although we are considering whether it will be the England men’s or England women’s team who next wins the World Cup, there is of course another option: that neither side wins it… ever. It is not easy to win a World Cup and to do so requires not only exceptional players and coaching staff but also at least a little bit of luck.

There are dozens of other nations who fancy their chances of winning a World Cup at some point. And it is feasible that neither the men’s nor the women’s England side will have what it takes to win the sport’s biggest prize, and though we wouldn’t like to say ever, certainly in the next decade or two.

As things stand, we would have to give the women’s England team the nod as the more likely of the two to win the World Cup next. But they might need to act swiftly. As the women’s game grows in popularity and stature, more national football associations are sure to be willing to invest in the women’s side of the game and this is likely to make competition ever fiercer at future tournaments.

Of course, one of the appealing things about football is that anything can happen (well, almost anything). And, especially if Southgate and Wiegman stay in their roles, we think there is at least a possibility that both the men’s and women’s England sides will win their respective World Cups in 2026 (men) and 2027 (women). But if we had to bet on one or the other, our money would be firmly on the Lionesses.