Following the success of this summer’s Women’s World Cup in France, world governing body Fifa is reportedly looking to fast-track its plans to expand the tournament from 24 to 32 teams.
According to the Associated Press, Fifa asked council members on July 26 to approve adding eight more teams for the 2023 tournament within days and without a formal meeting.
If approved, the move will significantly change the ongoing contest to host the 2023 tournament. Nine federations are currently preparing to submit formal plans for a 24-team tournament by Oct. 4. They are: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Japan, New Zealand, South Africa and South Korea, which could bid with North Korea.
Fifa now wants to modify the bid process by asking the nine federations to re-confirm interest for a 32-team tournament, and inviting other federations to enter.
The Fifa Council is due to award hosting rights for the 2023 tournament in March next year but plans to expand the event would likely push this back to May. It is unclear how the extra eight places would be allocated.
At the Women’s World Cup in France, Fifa president Gianni Infantino revealed his plans for a 32-team tournament, and proposed doubling its prize money to $60m.
“We will have to act quickly to decide if we are to increase it for 2023,” Infantino said. “If we do, we should reopen the bidding process to allow everyone to have a chance or maybe co-host. Nothing is impossible.”
The 2022 men’s World Cup in Qatar will be the last edition to feature 32 teams, with a 48-team tournament planned for the 2026 event, which will be co-hosted by the United States, Mexico and Canada.