Brazil to host 2027 World Cup – now South America federations must invest in women’s football

FIFA President Gianni Infantino announces Brazil as the winning country to host the 2027 Women's World Cup during the 74th FIFA Congress in Bangkok, Thailand, 17 May 2024
FIFA President Gianni Infantino announces Brazil as the winning country to host the 2027 Women's World Cup during the 74th FIFA Congress in Bangkok, Thailand, 17 May 2024

Brazil will become the first South American country to host a Women’s World Cup when it stages the 2027 tournament.

Brazil beat its only remaining competitor – a joint bid for European neighbours Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands – in the vote at Fifa’s Congress in Bangkok on Friday.

Earlier in the process, a joint bid from Mexico and the United States, plus a South African bid, had both withdrawn. Brazil had been the clear favourite to win the vote ever since the Mexico/USA withdrawal, promising to hold the final in the iconic Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro.

That will be one of 10 venues for the 2027 tournament, which are similar to those used for the 2014 men’s World Cup. The Brazilian bid’s plan to use large stadiums that are already built and have recently staged a major tournament, was seen as a positive during Fifa’s bid evaluation process.

The European entry has been praised for its proposals around environmental sustainability, having promised a tournament that would not require teams to take any flights mid-tournament. They had chosen host cities close together to allow train travel between venues.

Olga Carmona of Spain kisses the First Place Medal after her team's victory in the FIFA Women's World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023 Final match between Spain and England at Stadium Australia on August 20, 2023 in Sydney, Australia

However, the smaller average size of their stadia, counted against them as Brazil’s bid was awarded a higher average score by the evaluation team. The fact another European country, France, had hosted the tournament as recently as 2019 is also believed to have counted against the joint Belgium-Germany-Netherlands bid in the minds of many of the voting delegates.

Brazil received 119 votes, with England amongst the 78 member associations to vote for the European bid.

Analysis: Welcome move for the sport

Fifa taking the Women’s World Cup to South America has been long overdue and this tournament will offer a much-needed “moment” to try to spark growth for the women’s game across the continent. For that reason, this is broadly a welcome move for the sport. But that also means the important work starts now.

Not very many South American football associations have a track record to be proud of, specifically when it comes to investment in women’s football, so the pressure is going to be on Brazil’s FA to deliver the tournament the global game deserves – and to deliver the legacy their fans, aspiring young girls, women’s players and coaches deserve domestically.

They have not got long to get ready. Three years is a relatively short time to prepare to host what is one of the biggest sporting events on the planet (it has an expected global audience of around two billion people). This will be the 10th official edition of the Women’s World Cup and after just shy of two million fans attended the 2023 tournament, more records should be smashed in 2027.

However, breaking records is no longer enough. In a decade’s time, will Brazilian girls have better opportunities to play the game, better facilities, fairer conditions? Everybody involved in the sport worldwide will expect the answer to be “yes” – the authorities must deliver.

As for the joint Belgium, Germany and Netherlands bid, which proposed one of the greenest tournaments in sporting history with a comprehensive environmental strategy, they can count themselves unfortunate to have been up against a popular Brazilian bid in a year when the event was unlikely to return to Europe so soon after France 2019.

Instead, Brazil now has the power in its hands to help inspire societal change across an entire continent.

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