Women's World Cup 2015: One billion TV viewers expected

By Alistair MagowanBBC Sport in Moncton, Canada
Women's World Cup Catch-Up: How to follow it across BBC Sport
Women's World Cup on the BBC
Dates: 6 June - 5 July. Coverage: Every match live on the BBC. All games online with selected matches on BBC Two, BBC Three and Red Button. Catch-up via BBC iPlayer. Every England game on BBC Radio 5 live. Live text commentary of every England game via BBC Sport website.

The Women's World Cup got under way as hosts Canada took on China in Edmonton.

The expanded edition of the competition will feature 24 teams for the first time and could reach up to a billion TV viewers around the world.

Eight sides will make their World Cup debuts but Germany and the United States will start as favourites as they seek to win a third global title.

England begin their campaign against France on Tuesday in Moncton.

Graphic showing where England will play their matches at the 2015 World Cup (two games in Moncton, one in Montreal)

More than 400m viewers tuned into the Women's World Cup in Germany four years ago, and tournament organisers Fifa hope that increased interest from broadcasters and a captive North American audience can boost ratings in order to help the sport grow.

Fifa says the tournament - the seventh Women's World Cup - is due to be broadcast in 187 territories.

All 52 matches, to be played on artificial turf, are live on the BBC Sport website, with selected games on BBC Two, BBC Three and the BBC Red Button.

The 2015 debutants
Cameroon, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Ivory Coast, Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand.

The Women's World Cup will be the first Fifa tournament since Sepp Blatter announced his intention to stand down as president on Tuesday following corruption allegations against members of the organisation.

Women's World Cup: England have 'belief and confidence'

Before his resignation speech Fifa had said Blatter would attend the final in Vancouver on 5 July, but in a news conference on Thursday officials said that was still to be confirmed.

More than 920,000 tickets have already been sold for the tournament, while the prize fund is $15m (£10m) with the winners earning $2m, up 50% from four years ago.

England's Welsh head coach Mark Sampson, 32, is targeting a semi-final spot and his side begin against much-fancied France, who knocked them out at the quarter-final stage four years ago. Mexico and Colombia are the other teams in Group F.

The Lionesses, ranked sixth in the world, have never won a World Cup knockout fixture but Sampson, taking charge for his first major tournament, has a great chance to change that record.

Group F graphic

With six groups of four teams in the tournament, 16 of 24 will go through to a second round for the first time. That means that in four of the groups, three of four teams will progress.

Sampson, whose side reached Canada with a 100% qualifying record, told BBC Sport: "We are confident that with this group of players we can kick on and achieve something special this summer."

Germany and the US, ranked number one and two in the world, will hope they can emerge victorious after Japan won their first World Cup four years ago.

Hosts Canada, who beat England 1-0 in their final warm-up match on 30 May, are ranked eighth in the world, but their English coach John Herdman believes that home support can provide his players with extra inspiration.

Herdman, who is from County Durham, told BBC Sport: "If we can go deep into the tournament, the country will come to a stop. We want to win it. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."

The opening match against China in Edmonton has sold more than 52,000 tickets, making it the best attended match in Canadian soccer history, but the Canadian Soccer Association officials said only a third of group games had sold out.

Women's World Cup 2015
Results,fixtures & tables
How to watch on the BBC
England squad in profile
Women's WC on the World Service

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