The Women’s World Cup will expand from 24 teams to 32, beginning with the next tournament in 2023, FIFA announced Wednesday.
The FIFA Council unanimously approved the proposal to expand the field by eight teams, a response FIFA president Gianni Infantino credits to "the astounding success of this year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup in France," won by the defending champion United States.
That event, Infantino said, "made it very clear that this is the time to keep the momentum going and take concrete steps to foster the growth of women’s football. I am glad to see this proposal — the first of several — becoming a reality.”
As the bidding process for the 2023 tournament has already started, the FIFA Council decided not to wait until its next scheduled meeting in Shanghai in October to make the decision.
The timeline set forth in Wednesday's announcement said existing bidders must reconfirm their interest in hosting, while any other eligible member associations can now express interest too. Bid submissions are due by December, an evaluation report will be made by April 2020 and the appointment of the host or hosts is expected the following month.
“The expansion reaches far beyond the eight additional participating teams; it means that, from now on, dozens more member associations will organize their women’s football program knowing they have a realistic chance of qualifying," Infantino said. "The FIFA Women’s World Cup is the most powerful trigger for the professionalization of the women’s game, but it comes but once every four years and is only the top of a much greater pyramid.
"In the meantime, we all have a duty to do the groundwork and strengthen women’s football development infrastructure across all confederations."
The nine parties interested in hosting are Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Japan, New Zealand, South Africa and a joint bid from South Korea and North Korea.
Asia — represented by Japan and the Koreas — is the only current bidding confederation that has hosted the tournament, both times in China (1991 and 2007).
Thirty-seven FIFA board members will participate in the vote to select the host nation(s) in a secret ballot in spring 2020.
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