Fifa has reopened the bidding process for the 2023 Women’s World Cup after its Council approved the tournament’s expansion from 24 to 32 teams.
All bids must be submitted by December, with the hosts expected to be announced in May 2020.
“The astounding success of this year’s Fifa Women’s World Cup in France made it very clear that this is the time to keep the momentum going and take concrete steps to foster the growth of women’s football. I am glad to see this proposal – the first of several − becoming a reality,” said Fifa president Gianni Infantino in a statement.
Earlier this week, Fifa’s chief women’s football officer Sarai Bareman told SportBusiness that expanding the World Cup would offer a “really positive impact” to women’s football globally.
“Our focus is on creating increased playing opportunities for the women’s game all over the world,” she said. “I think creating a new playing opportunities like the World League, like expanding Women’s World Cup, introducing a Club World Cup for women, having a real focus on the grassroots level and improving the domestic leagues – those things combined will definitely help to make an impact.
“But even if you just look at it on its own, the 32-team World Cup will have a direct impact just on the number of countries competing and playing football. In Africa, 24 out of the 54 African nations entered into the qualifying pathway for the Woman’s World Cup as opposed to 53 out of 54 who did the qualification process for the men’s World Cup. Offering more opportunities to play in a World Cup will hopefully reduce that disparity.”
The nine bidders for a 24-team tournament in 2023 were Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Japan, New Zealand, South Africa and South Korea, in a possible joint bid with North Korea. Australia and New Zealand are now expected to launch a joint bid for a 32-team tournament.
Bareman said that Fifa will now ask those nine to “reconfirm their interest in bidding for a 32-team tournament,” and would also “invite other federations to express if they were interested in bidding, based on the increased number of teams.”
Football Federation Australia has already confirmed that it will proceed with a bid, with the body’s chairman, Chris Nikou, saying that the country “stands ready to work with Fifa to deliver an historic 32-nation Women’s World Cup in 2023.”
He added: “Australia’s appetite to host the Fifa Women’s World Cup in 2023 is only enhanced by the news received overnight. We are resolute in our belief that a Women’s World Cup hosted in Australia offers truly limitless possibilities that will not only herald a new chapter in women’s football, but also provide a platform for change that can transcend the game across the region and beyond.”