GENEVA, June 26: Australia and New Zealand will co-host the Women�s World Cup in 2023, with the following edition possibly set to take place just two years later.
The joint bid beat Colombia 22-13 in a vote on Thursday by FIFA�s ruling council, which judged them as having the best commercial prospects for women�s soccer.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino was one of the members who voted for Australia and New Zealand to stage the first 32-team Women�s World Cup, then revived a suggestion aired at last year�s tournament in France to stage it every two years instead of every four years.
�We need to boost women�s football,� Infantino told reporters from FIFA�s headquarters in Zurich. If you have to wait four years all the time, maybe it�s a bit long.�
FIFA�s decision means South America is still waiting to host its first Women�s World Cup, a tournament that was first played in 1991.
The 2023 tournament will be the first time a World Cup for men or women will be shared across two countries from different FIFA confederations. Australia is a member of Asia�s soccer body and New Zealand is in the Oceania group. It is also the first co-hosted women�s edition.
Both Australia, the No. 7-ranked team in women�s soccer, and No. 23 New Zealand will qualify automatically for the tournament. The voter preferences were quickly published by FIFA and split along continental lines. Colombia had all nine delegates from European soccer body UEFA joining four eligible voters from South America�s CONMEBOL.
Former US Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati voted for Australia and New Zealand. Infantino acknowledged that he was surprised by the alliance of soccer�s traditional continental powers, who have been critical of his plans in the past including a 24-team Club World Cup in China that is on hold due to the pandemic.
For New Zealand, the tournament is being billed as the largest sporting event the country has hosted. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern worked the phones this week to urge support for the bid, and her government has already set aside NZ $25 million to help preparations for the tournament.
�It will be an historic tournament of firsts that will create a profound and enduring legacy for women�s football in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond,� Ardern said.
�We are looking forward to delivering the best ever FIFA Women�s World Cup in both nations, one that will elevate the women�s game and inspire women and girls around the world.� � AP