FIFA is moving ahead at a frenetic pace with its plan to expand the Women’s World Cup from 24 teams to 32. The governing body of soccer has asked its ruling council to fast-track the move and approve it within days without a formal meeting, according to reports by the Associated Press and ESPN FC.
Doing so would push back the bidding process for the 2023 World Cup, which is currently slated to be decided in March 2020.
FIFA to fast-track World Cup expansion
FIFA president Gianni Infantino said earlier this month FIFA was looking to expand the tournament by eight teams and proposed doubling the prize money to $60 million. Before the U.S. won the final, he told reporters the expansion was based on the “evidence” of success on the women’s side, though he said it “probably” should have been done already.
“FIFA has a responsibility to ensure that its women’s competitions not only showcase women’s football at the highest level, but also act as a catalyst to grow the game,” council members have been told.
He mentioned urgency to get it done in his initial remarks, and now is acting on it, according to documents the AP and ESPN FC reviewed. Infantino wants to get it approved now because the 37-member FIFA Council doesn’t meet in person until Oct. 23-24 in Shanghai. If approved now, there is more time for FIFA to re-confirm interest from bidders for the next World Cup and accept more. How they allocated the additional spots would be determined at a later date, per the AP.
The addition of eight more teams will continue to grow the game. Countries will put more money into their women’s programs because there is a higher chance they’ll make it to the tournament. And the depth of talented teams will only increase. The USWNT’s second consecutive title was more impressive because of how convincingly the team defeated strong teams.
Count superstar Alex Morgan in.
There is always going to be growing pains, but in the long term this will greatly help women’s football on a global scale. I approve FIFA(for once)! https://t.co/KgfZGYocEg
— Alex Morgan (@alexmorgan13) July 26, 2019
Women’s World Cup bidding could be pushed back
Not even FIFA knows where the next Women’s World Cup will be held in four years. Which is incredible and a sharp distinction from how the organization handles its men’s World Cup.
The hosts for the 2018 and 2022 men’s World Cup (Russia and Qatar, respectively) were announced in December 2010 — and entire cycle ahead of the tournament. The 2026 joint bid from the U.S., Canada and Mexico was accepted last year.
Bidding for the 2023 Women’s World Cup was scheduled to take place in March 2020 after bids are due by Oct. 4. Instead, per the Associated Press, if the expansion were to pass within the week, FIFA would shift the schedule. The nine federations preparing bids would be contacted and asked to re-confirm interest. Other federations would also be asked to enter.
Bids would be submitted in December, a FIFA-run evaluation would be released in April and a vote would be taken in May, per the AP. The winning country would have three years from acceptance to hosting. The tournament is scheduled from July 10-Aug. 20.
Who has bid for the 2023 tournament?
Nine federations are reportedly ready to bid on a 24-team tournament: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Japan, New Zealand, South Africa and South Korea in a potential joint bid with North Korea.
Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Japan, South & North Korea, New Zealand have all joined South Africa in bidding to host the FIFA Women's World Cup 2023
— SAFA.net (@SAFA_net) March 19, 2019
South Africa qualified for its first Women’s World Cup in 25 years. If its bid were accepted, it would host the continent’s first Women’s World Cup. The country hosted the men’s World Cup in 2010.
The women’s tournament has also never been in South America. China and the U.S. have each hosted twice. Germany hosted in 2011, Canada in 2015 and France this month.
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