FIFA announced today that Football Federation Australia (FFA) and New Zealand Football (NZF) have been awarded the rights to host the first 32-team FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2023.
Said to be the most competitive bidding process in the history of the FIFA Women’s World Cup, earlier this week, the Japan Football Association withdrew its bid to host the tournament. Citing the one-year postponement of the Tokyo Olympics and the challenges associated with hosting two major soccer tournaments in a short time frame, as well as the wide-ranging support for the Australia/New Zealand bid as factors for their withdrawal decision.
Australia/New Zealand emerged as the front-runner this month after FIFA released its bid evaluations, scoring the highest overall score of 4.1 out of 5. Japan and Colombia scored 3.9 and 2.8, respectively. The Brazilian Football Association ultimately withdrew its bid before FIFA published its evaluation report.
The joint Australia/New Zealand bid received 22 of the 35 votes cast by the FIFA Council during its meeting held by videoconference. The Colombian Football Association obtained 13 votes. The New Zealand and Colombia council members recused themselves.
The criteria for the FIFA Women’s World Cup bids included commercial and infrastructure factors, ranging from cost efficiency to stadiums and team facilities.
“As FIFA’s first co-confederation bidders, we present FIFA with an innovative concept that combines technical excellence, vision and passion with an extraordinary opportunity to drive women’s football to new heights,” said FFA and NZF in their As One bid proposal.
According to FFA and NZF, the tournament structure will include four groups located in each country during the group stage of the tournament. The round of 16, quarter-finals and semi-finals will be played across the two host nations, while the third-place play-off will take place in Australia. And the competition will conclude in Sydney at Stadium Australia, which has a capacity of 70,000. Stadium Australia was the centerpiece of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games and is being redeveloped to transform the venue into a permanent rectangular configuration.
The FFA and NZF partnership model proposes a minimum of five stadiums in each host country, and the tournament will be played entirely on natural grass between July and August.
Commercially, FIFA calculated the projected organizing costs of the bid to reach $108 million, which is $17.5 million above its set baseline. The tournament’s large geographical footprint, which creates a need for increased staffing, technical services and marketing, were factors associated with the higher projected costs.
However, during the bid evaluation process, FIFA Administration said that the Australia/New Zealand bid appeared to “present the most commercially favorable proposition, taking into consideration the financial commitments made by the governments of both countries towards the operational costs of the tournament.” Subject to conditions, the two countries’ federal and regional governments have allocated a combined total of approximately $75 million.
FIFA estimates more 1.5 million ticket sales (including hospitality ticketing), which should generate $41 million in revenue.
The FIFA Women’s World Cup has been held every four years since 1991, with the 8th edition played in France in 2019. The eight editions so far have had four different national teams: United States (four-times), Germany (two-times), Japan and Norway. The ninth edition will be the first staging in the Southern hemisphere.
Australia’s national team has qualified for every World Cup (except the inaugural edition in 1991. To date, Australia’s best World Cup finish (men or women) was in 2015 when they beat Brazil in the Round of 16. In 2019, once again, they advanced to the Round of 16, but lost on penalties to Norway.
New Zealand’s national team participated in the 1991 World Cup and qualified for four editions thereafter. They have been in the tournament from 2007 – 2019, but the Football Ferns are still chasing their first win.