GENEVA (AP) — Australia and New Zealand will co-host the Women’s World Cup in 2023.
These two countries beat Colombia 22-13 after a vote Thursday by FIFA’s ruling council, which judged them as having the best commercial prospects for women’s soccer.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino was one of the members who voted in favor of Australia and New Zealand to stage the first 32-team Women’s World Cup.
“We need to boost women’s football,” Infantino said. “If you have to wait four years all the time, maybe it’s a bit long.”
FIFA’s decision makes South America wait longer to host its first Women’s World Cup.
For New Zealand, the tournament is being billed as the largest sporting event the country has hosted. New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern worked the phones this week to urge support for the bid, and her government has already set aside NZ$25 million to help preparations for the tournament.
“It will be a historic tournament of firsts that will create a profound and enduring legacy for women’s football in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond,” Ardern said. “We are looking forward to delivering the best ever FIFA Women’s World Cup in both nations, one that will elevate the women’s game and inspire women and girls around the world.”
The winning bid Thursday proposed playing in 12 cities — seven in Australia and five in New Zealand — starting July 2023. This tournament will include the main stadium used for the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
After a successful World Cup last year won by the defending champion United States, FIFA wants the next women’s tournament to further establish its independence from the men, and show it is commercially attractive.
At least $100 million is expected to be paid by FIFA and be spent on prizes, team preparation costs and to clubs releasing players for the tournament.
The 2023 tournament will be the first time a World Cup for men or women will be shared across two countries from different FIFA confederations.
Both Australia, the ranked #7 team in women’s soccer, and New Zealand #23 will qualify automatically for this competition.