Close this search box.

The Williams sisters are teaming up for a must-watch World Cup production


Copa 71

Set to hit screens on International Women’s Day, Copa 71 tells the story of the unofficial 1971 Women’s World Cup in Mexico, 20 years before FIFA officially sanctioned the tournament.

In 2023, to steal Ron Burgundy’s words, the Women’s World Cup was kind of a big deal. But in 1971, this was far from the case. In fact, in many jurisdictions across the world, women’s football was either banned or very close to it.

Against this backdrop, the achievements of the 1971 Women’s World Cup are simply remarkable. Even more remarkable is the fact the story has remained largely repressed for over half a century. That won’t be the case for much longer, with three of the greatest female athletes of all time behind a new documentary celebrating the unprecedented tournament.

What do we know about Copa 71?

When does it hit the big screen?

March 8, 2024

Copa 71 hitting screens will coincide with International Women’s Day, which feels fitting.

Is there a trailer?

Yes, there are two actually. The official trailer which can be viewed here:

What does the documentary cover?

The subject matter of the documentary is simultaneously unknown and jaw-dropping. In 1971, one year after a large portion of footballing federations had overturned their bans on women’s football, six international women’s sides congregated in Mexico City and Guadalajara for an unofficial Women’s World Cup.

While it wasn’t the first edition of the tournament, that right is reserved for the 1970 instalment hosted in Italy, the 1971 Women’s World Cup was a record-breaking event that heavily strayed from the status quo of the time.

Why was it record-breaking, you ask? Well, for starters some of the attendance figures were simply unheard of; not only for women’s sports but all sports at the time.

Sell-out crowds packed raucous stadiums to show their support for these pioneering female athletes. Over 100,000 attended the tournament’s opening match between Mexico and Argentina and 80,000 attended Mexico’s semi-final triumph over Italy.

Even more extraordinarily though, a reported 112,000 people filed into the Azteca Stadium in Mexico City to watch Denmark, spearheaded by 15-year-old Susanne Augustesen, beat Mexico 3-0 in the final. It’s a record attendance for women’s sports that still stands today.

For context, three years earlier 119,000 people packed the same stadium to watch a football match between Brazil, two years out from being world champions, and Mexico. To add even more context, the 1970 World Cup final at the Azteca Stadium was attended by around 107,000 people.

Archival footage and nostalgic recollections will work alongside interviews with players who participated in the revolutionary tournament, as well as modern-day players whose professional paths were laid in Mexico in 1971 celebrating the achievements of the women who played.

The documentary encapsulates quite simply one of the most important tournaments in football history. Where would women’s football be today without it? We can only shudder and imagine.

US women's soccer team, Rapinoe, Morgan
US Women’s National team legend Alex Morgan (right) is an EP on Copa 71.

Who is the team behind the film?

Serena and Venus Williams, two of the greatest female athletes ever, and Alex Morgan, two-time FIFA Women’s World Cup winner with the United States of America, have been credited as executive producers for Copa 71.

On a directorial front, James Erskine, who has produced films about the England national football team’s 1990 World Cup campaign, Brazilian footballing legend Socrates and Sachin Tendulkar co-directed the film alongside Rachel Ramsey.

Why was women’s football banned?

For a variety of reasons, women’s football was banned by multiple federations around the globe in the early 20th century. For example, female football in Australia, which was largely popular at the beginning of the 20th century, was banned following the English FA’s decision to impose a ban on the game in 1921.

At the that ‘the game of football is quite unsuitable for females and ought not to be encouraged.’

The ban imposed was not strictly banning women from playing football, the FA could not do so. Instead, it was a ban on female football taking place on FA-affiliated grounds. One of the main drivers of this was the revenue women’s football was raising in the UK at that time and the FA’s inability to control such financial benefits.

venusserena hero 720 1
Venus and Serena Williams are part of the Copa 71 production team
Picture of Kyle Robbins
Kyle Robbins
Kyle is a senior sports writer and producer at Only Sports who lives and breathes sport, with a particular burning passion for everything soccer, rugby league, and cricket. You’ll most commonly find him getting overly hopeful about the Bulldogs and Chelsea’s prospects. Find Kyle on LinkedIn.

Latest Stories

Best State of Origin jerseys
We've selected and ranked the 10 best State of Origin jerseys of all time
2024 T20 World Cup ultimate guide: Can Australia reclaim the title?
Sport events 2024 calendar australia
Your Ultimate Guide to every unmissable sporting event for 2024, updated
Best sports autobiographies
How many have you done? Here are the 10 best sports autobiographies ever written

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Articles