Who has scored the most goals at the FIFA Women’s World Cup? We look over the top scorers in women’s World Cup history, since the first edition in 1991.
No player has scored as many goals at the Women’s World Cup as Brazilian striker Marta, who found the net 17 times in just 20 appearances across an impressive five tournaments. Together with Canada’s Christine Sinclair, Marta holds the record for most FIFA Women’s World Cup tournaments with at least one goal – both scoring in each of the last five editions of the WWC.
Marta made her World Cup debut in 2003 at the age of 17 years and 214 days and didn’t need long to score her first goal, converting a penalty in the 14th minute of the opening match. Only three players have scored at a younger age at the Women’s World Cup. Marta finished that tournament with three goals in four matches.
In the following World Cup, Marta had her breakout tournament. She scored two in the first match against New Zealand and two more in the second against hosts China. She netted once more in the quarter-final, before Brazil overpowered the USA in the semi-final (4-0) thanks to two more Marta goals, including an amazing solo effort.
Unable to score in the 2007 final against Germany, her Brazil side lost 2-0. Despite this, Marta ended the tournament as the top scorer and the best player, picking up both the Golden Boot and Golden Ball.
In the 2011 World Cup, she scored four more goals in just four matches, two of them coming in the group stage. Overall, she scored 11 of her 17 goals at that stage of the competition, more than any other player in tournament history.
Marta went on to score at both the 2015 and 2019 editions of the Women’s World Cup, and with his 17th competition goal against Italy in 2019, she became the all-time top scorer at World Cup tournaments, including the men’s competition.
The 2023 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand was Marta’s last as a player. She featured in all three of Brazil’s group-stage matches, but was unable to add to her tally of 17 goals as Brazil failed to progress to the knockout stages.
Abby Wambach and Birgit Prinz
Both American forward Abby Wambach and German striker Birgit Prinz have scored 14 goals at the Women’s World Cup.
Wambach is the all-time top scorer for the USWNT, amassing 184 goals across 255 caps for The Stars and Stripes, at least 26 more than any other player and 63 more than the next current member of the American squad, Alex Morgan (121).
Wambach made her World Cup debut in 2003, with the USA the host nation, scoring three goals in six matches. The USWNT would finish third, losing in the semi-finals to eventual champions Germany.
In 2007, she scored half of the United States’ 12 goals, including two in a 4-1 victory over Norway to secure another third place.
Wambach was a familiar face from 2003 until 2015, and overall only former teammate Kristine Lilly (30) and Brazilian Formiga (27) have made more WWC appearances than she did (25 – along with USA’s Carli Lloyd).
Prinz scored 128 goals in her 214 appearances for the German national team, both the highest tallies for her country. In fact, no other player has scored more than 83 goals for Germany in full women’s international football.
Prinz scored for the first time at the World Cup in 1995 against Brazil in a 6-1 victory, but the 2003 World Cup in the USA was her most successful in front of goal. That edition saw her score seven goals in six matches, helping Germany lift the trophy after beating Sweden in the final. Prinz scored in each of the first five matches of that tournament, making her one of just three players to ever find the net in five consecutive matches within the same Women’s World Cup alongside England’s Ellen White in 2019 and Heidi Mohr for Germany in 1991. Her performances in 2003 saw her pick up both the Golden Boot and be voted as the player of the tournament.
In 2007, Germany successfully defended their title, with Birgit Prinz scoring in the final. That goal, her fourth in the knockout stages of the tournament, would also be her final strike at the Women’s World Cup.
USA legend Michelle Akers scored 12 goals in just 13 matches at World Cup Finals, with eight of those coming in her first four games.
With 10 goals at the inaugural Women’s World Cup in 1991, Akers holds the record for the most goals by a player at a single WWC tournament. Half of those goals came thanks to her five in a 7-0 win over Chinese Taipei in the quarter-finals, making her just one of only two players to score as many as five goals in a single Women’s World Cup match alongside fellow US international Alex Morgan (vs. Thailand in 2019).
Akers eventually fired the United States to glory in that World Cup, with her two goals enough to defeat Norway 2-1 in the final – the first of four WWC titles for the Americans. Overall, only Carli Lloyd (three) has scored more goals in a Women’s World Cup final than Akers (two).
Future World Cup tournaments would see Akers move into a deeper role in the United States’ midfield, and the following edition in 1995 was full of frustration after she suffered an injury and was ruled out for the remainder of the tournament after just two games.
She would make her comeback at the 1999 World Cup playing five games. She scored two more goals to help her country to yet another World Cup title.
Akers played just over 1,000 minutes at three World Cups (1,003), averaging a goal every 84 minutes. Among all players with at least three goals at the WWC, only Carin Jennings needed fewer minutes per goal (82 mins per goal, with six across 491 minutes) than Akers.
Cristiane, Sun Wen and Bettina Wiegmann
Cristiane, Sun Wen and Bettina Wiegmann all scored 11 goals at the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Of those players, Cristiane featured most recently, scoring four times across four matches at the 2019 World Cup in France, with three of those goals coming against Jamaica. That treble saw her become the first Brazilian to score a hat-trick at the Women’s World Cup since Sissi and Pretinha both did so against Mexico in June 1999 (7-1).
Another player with a Women’s World Cup hat-trick to her name is Sun Wen, who is the only Chinese player to ever score a treble in the competition thanks to her three goals against Ghana in 1999.
At the 1999 edition, she helped her country finish second, as China fell short in the final against the USA on penalties. She ended the tournament as joint top scorer with seven goals and won the Golden Ball.
Despite her 11 goals overall, Germany’s Bettina Wiegmann never scored more than once in a single World Cup match, despite finding the net an impressive 11 times across 22 appearances.