With FIFA unanimously deciding to expand the tournament from 24 to 32 teams, the 2023 World Cup promises to be bigger and better than ever before, but who will have the honour of hosting the competition?
Just two bids apiece were submitted for each of the two previous World Cups, with France winning the right to last year’s spectacle. This year, however, four bids have been made, including a joint entry by Australia and New Zealand.
Belgium, Bolivia, South Africa and South Korea had initially been listed as candidates by FIFA but all removed their bids for various reasons, with some deciding that the 2027 tournament may be preferable. 2011 World Cup winners Japan are another nation on the shortlist, whilst two South-American bids from Brazil and Colombia round up the four that completed their submissions.
Who has the best chance of securing the rights to FIFA’s biggest women’s competition to date though? In 2019, the average capacity of stadiums was 30,000 yet all bids for 2023 propose venues that equate to a much larger average than this.
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It appears no singular bid stands as a much more attractive prospect than the rest, with each offering enticing propositions. Australia and New Zealand promise to price tickets as low as $5 and would also showcase the most venues- 13 in total.
Meanwhile, women’s football in Brazil is on the rise, with 28,000 fans watching Corinthians take on Sao Paulo last year. When you consider the success of the 2014 men’s tournament and the 2016 Olympics, it is clear the competition would be in safe hands should FIFA go down this route.
One of the official requirements of hosting the World Cup is to have your own national league, something that Colombia only recently introduced in 2017. They are also the only nation not to have qualified for last year’s tournament, though this could be all the more reason to let them host in an attempt to attract their passionate supporters.
Japan’s bid contains plans to use just eight stadiums, with this the minimum FIFA requested. The stadiums themselves are large though and proved successful at the Korea/Japan World Cup in 2002. Plans to make their women’s league professional like in England are also in development, so a World Cup in the country could give the domestic competition the exposure it will need.
FIFA will publish an evaluation report in April after visiting the respective nations first, but at this stage, it’s impossible to tell which country is in the driving seat.