December 13 (Reuters) – Australia and New Zealand have launched a joint bid backed by both governments to bring the women’s soccer World Cup to the southern hemisphere for the first time in 2023.
The bid to host the women’s World Cup, the first to feature 32 teams, was formally announced in Melbourne on Friday, a few hours before it was due to be lodged with the sport’s global governing body FIFA in Switzerland.
Japan, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and South Africa are also expected to join the race to host the tournament, while South and North Korea have touted a joint bid.
This year’s 24-team World Cup in France, won by the United States, set records for attendance and attracted unprecedented viewing figures on television.
After that success, FIFA decided to expand the tournament to 32 teams for 2023 and reopened the bidding process to allow time for interested nations to adjust their plans.
Australia and New Zealand both qualified for this year’s World Cup and while neither is a traditional power in the men’s game the countries do have experience of hosting major tournaments in other sports.
“Australia and New Zealand have a successful history of both staging and co-hosting major international sporting events most recently the Rugby League World Cup 2017 and the Cricket World Cup 2015,” Richard Colbeck, Australia’s Minister for Youth and Sport, said.
“By hosting such a premier sporting event, we strengthen Australia’s reputation as a world leader in women’s sport.”
The bid has the backing of the FAs of both countries, who are members of different regional confederations, and would utilise the “world class venues” available to them.
“We know New Zealand and Australia can work as a team to deliver something unique and world-class, while also creating a legacy for women and for football in our countries and across Asia and Oceania,” said New Zealand Minister for Sport and Recreation Grant Robertson.
Australia made a bid to host the 2022 men’s World Cup, backed by A$45.6 million ($30.94 million) in government funding, but received just one vote as FIFA’s executive committee elected to award the tournament to Qatar.
Friday is the deadline for bid submissions for the 2023 women’s World Cup with the hosts scheduled to be announced in May next year.