The 20 most iconic memes and reactions from the 2023 Women’s World Cup

Split image showing England goalkeeper Mary Earps (L) and England forward Rachel Daly (R) embracing after winning the FIFA Women's World Cup 2023 semi-final match between Australia and England, and Lauren James of England stamping on Michelle Alozie of Nigeria which later leads to a red card being shown following a Video Assistant Referee review during the England and Nigeria match.

The 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup has captivated millions of fans around the globe, laid to rest sexist misconceptions about the women’s game, and spawned impeccable memes and reactions on social media.

After an epic semi-final battle between England’s Lionesses and host country Australia’s Matildas ended in a 3-1 triumph for England on Wednesday (16 August), England and Spain are heading for a thrilling World Cup final.

A record two billion viewers are expected to tune in to watch the Lionesses and La Roja battle it out at Stadium Australia in Sydney on Sunday (20 August). Ramping up the excitement is the fact that this is the first time both England and Spain have made it to a FIFA Women’s World Cup final.

With record numbers of out LGBTQ+ players, this World Cup has not only been hailed as the queerest ever – but also the most successful women’s tournament in history. And the internet has not disappointed when it comes to chaotic, wry, thirsty and downright hilarious fan reactions.

‘I’m sorry Frodo. I was delayed’

Journalist Jacqueline Felgate captured the moment when an entire plane full of travellers lost their s**t when the Matlidas beat France on penalties in their quarter-final match – apart from one passenger, who was blithely watching Frodo be reunited with Gandalf, Merry and Pippin in The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King.

It turned out that this LotR / World Cup crossover was the viral content we never knew we needed.

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Kick sexism out of football

If there was ever a tournament that should obliterate the predictable sexist whingeing about the women’s game being inferior to the men’s, this World Cup is it.

Nike decides not to make Mary Earps’ England goalkeeper kit

Sportswear and footwear giant Nike sparked major backlash on social media for refusing to sell a replica shirt for England goalkeeper Mary Earps, with fans asking why all the England home and away kits are available to buy – apart from the goalie’s.

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Earps herself has spoken out about the controversy, calling Nike’s decision “hugely disappointing and very hurtful”.

England beats Australia 3-1 in a nail-biting semi-final

Australia exited the World Cup after a semi-final loss to England, but Matildas captain Sam Kerr’s legendary goal will live forever.

‘They’re just like us!’ Politicians turned the cringe factor up to 11

Let’s face it, it wouldn’t be a World Cup without British politicians sharing definitely-not-staged photos of themselves enjoying England games.

Ed Davey, the Liberal Democrat leader, received some social media ribbing over this very “man shakes fist at cloud” snap.

Prime minister Rishi Sunak and Prince William – who serves as the Football Association (FA) president – have both come under fire for not flying out to see England face Spain in Sunday’s historic final.

Lioness Ella Toone makes football history

England midfielder Ella Toone was an integral part of the Lionesses semi-final victory, with a goal at the 36th minute.

It also made her first England player – inclusive of men’s and women’s games – to score in a quarter-final, semi-final and final of major international tournaments (defined as either Euros or World Cups).

Michelle Alozie wins X (formerly known as Twitter) after England vs Nigeria

And finally, Nigeria’s Michelle Alozie addressed the moment where England’s Lauren James received a red card for stamping on her back during the 7 August group match. Alozie responded with ultimate class, posting the next day: “Abeg, rest. We are playing on the world’s stage. This game is one of passion, insurmountable emotions, and moments. All respect for Lauren James.”

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Her entirely relatable “life” tweet will go down in history.

The FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 final airs on Sunday 20 August at 11am UK time and 8pm local time. UK viewers can watch on both ITV1 and the BBC.

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