August 1 – The women’s World Cup finals will expand to 32 teams in 2023, putting it on a par with the men, though prize money will still doubtless remain an issue.
The move by the FIFA Council illustrates the growth of the women’s game which started with 12 finalists in 1991 but doubled in size for the last two editions and now expands even further following record viewing figures for the recent competition in France.
There was no Council meeting as such, the decision was made remotely and approved unanimously. As a result FIFA has reopened the bidding process for staging the 2023 edition.
Nine national associations had expressed interest in hosting the 24-team competition, and were due to submit their formal bids by October 4: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Japan, New Zealand, South Africa and South Korea, which could bid jointly with North Korea. Under the new timetable, any national association now has until December to enter the bidding for the tournament which will comprise eight groups of four.
FIFA has updated its hosting requirements and the new timetable will provisionally see the Bid Evaluation Report published in April 2020 with the final decision on hosting nation(s) taken in May 2020.
FIFA’s announcement made no mention of prize money, an issue that has caused consternation verging on resentment, especially from world champions USA.
The US received $4 million of a $30 million prize pot for winning the World Cup on July 7, a fraction of $38 million from $400 million that France collected for winning last year’s men’s World Cup.
In a statement, FIFA president Gianni infantino said: “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,
“It means that, from now on, dozens more member associations will organise their women’s football programme knowing they have a realistic chance of qualifying. The FIFA Women’s World Cup is the most powerful trigger for the professionalisation of the women’s game, but it comes but once every four years and is only the top of a much greater pyramid.”
The other post-France 2019 proposals for the development of the women’s game referred to by Infantino include, according to a FIFA statement:
“ 1. The creation of a FIFA Club World Cup for women: starting as soon as possible.
- The creation of a Women’s World League: a proposal put forward already in 2017, to be played in tournaments all over the world.
- Expanding the FIFA Women’s World Cup from 24 to 32 teams, potentially already as of the 2023 edition.
- To double the prize money for the next FIFA Women’s World Cup.
- To double the investment committed to women’s football over the next four-year cycle, from USD 500m to USD 1 billion.
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