The Women’s World Cup could be played every two years rather than every four if FIFA likes the results of its study.
The organization announced Friday it was considering doubling the frequency of soccer’s biggest tournament, which the United States has won the past two cycles.
FIFA considers Women’s World Cup every 2 years
As part of its push to support the women’s game, FIFA president Gianni Infantino said Friday the organization is looking into hosting the tournament every two years rather than every four.
"This is something we need to consider and we are considering it,” Infantino told Sky Sports. “There are a lot of exciting points with regards to women's football in the next few years."
He said the idea was first offered by the french federation and it president, Noel Le Graet, in July. Le Graet proposed it given its “incredible impact for the development of the game” compared to club soccer, per the Associated Press.
“We need to see what kind of big events we can create,” Infantino said, per the AP. “So we are studying this of course.”
FIFA announced in late July it would fast-track expanding the Women’s World Cup from 24 teams. Beginning in 2023, the tournament will be 32 teams based on “evidence” of success, Infantino said.
FIFA yet to decide location of next World Cup
While FIFA “studies” if it should play the Women’s World Cup more frequently, it still has yet to decide where the next one will be played. That date is now 3 1/2 years away, whereas the men’s tournaments are decided through 2026. The men’s joint North American bid with the United States, Mexico and Canada was chosen in June 2018, two cycles beforehand.
When the organization announced an expanded field for 2023, it extended the bidding given the additional teams and games. That deadline was Friday and there are four bids FIFA is considering: Brazil, Japan, Colombia and a joint one by Australia and New Zealand.
Joint bids by South Korea, doing so with North Korea, and South Africa were withdrawn before the deadline.
FIFA will assess the bids and submit evaluations to the FIFA Council. A vote will be held in June. Even without the pushed deadline, the vote was not scheduled until March 2020 for a tournament a cycle away.
Three years is not a lot of time for places to prepare for an international sporting event and promotional efforts were already lackluster in France, whether it be blamed on FIFA or the French organization committee. A 32-team tournament every two years would require far better planning by FIFA.
At least if it’s to be done correctly and fairly.
How will equal pay play into more tournaments?
The United States women’s national team is in a fight with U.S. Soccer for equal pay and overall better treatment from its federation. That court date is schedule for 2020, before the Tokyo Olympics.
The USWNT is far from the only team around the world in the fight. The Australian men’s and women’s teams struck a deal on a new collective bargaining agreement in November that offers equal pay. Finland announced it would offer equal salaries this year as well, joining the Netherlands’ announcement and Norway’s 2017 deal.
These deals are with their parent federations, but the idea of equal pay and treatment extends to FIFA and what it could do to better the game.
The payouts by FIFA for the men’s World Cup and the Women’s World Cup are already vastly different, with the 2018 men’s tournament offering $400 million in total to all teams compared to $30 million at the women’s tournament. Would FIFA keep the pot the same, but split in two? Or would it remain the same for each tournament, without a raise, with the women still making far less given their pay would double but for double the work to get it?
To properly “develop the game,” it will likely need a different approach and that’s what many want FIFA to study.
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