Aug 3, 2023, 6:48am EDT

Jamaica and South Africa stun with surprise entries into last 16 in women’s World Cup

August 2, 2023 Jamaica's Deneisha Blackwood celebrates with teammates after the match as Jamaica qualify for the knockout stages of the World Cup REUTERS/Asanka Brendon Ratnayake TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
REUTERS/Asanka Brendon Ratnayake

Sign up for Semafor Flagship: The daily global news briefing you can trust. Read it now.

Title icon

The News

Jamaica and South Africa progressed to the knockout round of the FIFA Women’s World Cup.

We’ve collected key insights you should read about both teams’ surprise rise through soccer’s key global tournament.

Title icon


  • The federations behind Nigeria, South Africa, and Jamaica shouldn’t be taking credit for their success. Journalist Nick Miller points out that all three teams’ journey to FIFA was riddled with disputes, and in Jamaica, funding was so low that they had to crowdsource some of the money required to make it to host countries Australia and New Zealand. “Make no mistake: Nigeria, South Africa and Jamaica are through to the last 16 of the World Cup in spite of their federations — not because of them,” Miller wrote. — The Athletic
  • Jamaica’s progression to the final 16 is historic: It is the first Caribbean nation to make it to the knockout stage. The history-making doesn’t stop there: Jamaica’s win over Brazil marks the first time Brazil hasn’t progressed past the group stage since 1995. — Forbes
  • South Africa’s showing is a major improvement over the team’s debut at their first World Cup four years ago. At that time, they lost all three of their matches. Their success in this tournament comes after the team navigated a major pay dispute with their federation. While the men’s team earn more than professionals in some European nations, the women’s team has had to fight for funding. “How many times should the national team continue to make history before the women’s game is taken seriously in our country?” Janine van Wyk, the team’s regular national captain, recently asked. — Reuters
Title icon

Know More

Both South Africa and Jamaica have performed better than expected, with Jamaica advancing past powerhouse team Brazil on Wednesday.

“I feel like we’ve been hugely underestimated,” Jamaica goalkeeper Becky Spencer told reporters. “We’re resilient and we had a point to prove.”

South Africa delivered a massive 3-2 win over Italy the same day, following an own goal by Italy’s Benedetta Orsi.