Fifa has said Australia and New Zealand’s joint bid to host the 2023 Women’s World Cup is the strongest of the three it has received. The other bidders are Colombia and Japan.
Fifa will decide the host for the tournament at an online meeting of its ruling council on June 25.
The governing body has assessed the ‘bid books’ submitted by the bidders and made visits to each country. Following these, an evaluation report has scored the Australia and New Zealand bid highest at 4.1 out of 5, followed by Japan on 3.9 and Colombia on 2.8. Australia and New Zealand were said in the report to “present the most commercially favourable proposition”. Fifa said it was the “most competitive” bidding process in the history of the tournament.
Brazil withdrew its bid on Monday. Due to its ongoing battle with the Covid-19 pandemic, the country’s government did not want to make the financial guarantees required by Fifa.
Reuters reported that the Fifa evaluation report raised questions over the financial backing for Colombia’s bid. It said Colombia would need “a significant amount of investment and support from both local stakeholders and Fifa in order to elevate organisational conditions to those of the other two bids…Based on the documentation submitted and the information provided, it is not clear if this level of investment will be available”.
The report said Japan’s bid included high quality venues and infrastructure, and a tournament there would attract strong television audiences in Asia.
In a press release, Fifa Secretary General Fatma Samoura said: “One year after the record-breaking eighth edition of the Fifa Women’s World Cup in France, the Fifa Council will decide on the host(s) for the ninth edition of the tournament in 2023, which we hope will be even bigger and better.
“The quality of the bids is testimony to the tremendous momentum women’s football has generated and we are looking forward to building on this to take women’s football to the next level at the Fifa Women’s World Cup 2023.”
In a joint press release welcoming the evaluation report, Football Federation Australia and New Zealand Football noted the financial commitments by each country’s government towards the tournament operating costs were important in securing the “most commercially favourable proposition accolade”. They also underlined that their ‘travel hub concept and player-centric plans’ would minimise travel time, and their match schedule plan, across four time zones, would “deliver matches at times favourable to broadcasters in established as well as emerging markets”. They also said Australia and New Zealand’s history of working together on major events and inter-governmental coordination on areas including security and transport, meant the tournament would be delivered “seamlessly”.
Chris Nikou, chairman of the FFA, said: “We are confident that our combination of technical excellence, record breaking crowds, commercial certainty, a warm embrace from our 200 different cultures and genuine impact across the region where the legacies will be profound will prove a compelling offer to Fifa and its confederations.
“We are two nations from two confederations, united in proposing a historic and exciting step forward for world football. It will be a tournament of firsts. The first ever co-confederation hosted Fifa World Cup, the first ever Fifa Women’s World Cup to be held in the Asia-Pacific region, and the first ever to be held in the southern hemisphere. As One, we believe this represents a compelling offer to the global football family.”
New Zealand Football president Johanna Wood said: “If successful, we will place the interests of the greatest female footballers in the world at the centre of everything we do, to deliver a Fifa Women’s World Cup the global football family can be proud of.
“With technical excellence, commercial certainty and a historic tournament of firsts, Australia-New Zealand offers Fifa a unique opportunity to move the dial for women’s football. We have proven this before and can be trusted to achieve this again.
“In addition, we are nations proud of our commitment to equality and fairness and would embody a Fifa Women’s World Cup 2023 built on common humanity through football.”
The 2023 World Cup will be the first to feature 32 teams.