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FIFA Council votes to expand 2023 World Cup to 32 teams

USWNT World Cup
Photo Copyright Daniela Porcelli

The wait for the next host for the Women’s World Cup will continue a little longer. The FIFA Council voted unanimously on Wednesday to expand the World Cup to 32 teams for the 2023 tournament. Teams will be split up into eight groups of four countries. However, there has been no indication yet to how the addition eight teams will be split up by confederations.

Meanwhile, the window is now open for prospective nations to throw their hat into the ring. Nations that have already submitted a bid include Australia, Japan and South Korea-North Korea from the Asian Federation; South Africa from CAF; Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil and Colombia from CONMEBOL; and New Zealand from Oceania. So far, no federation from UEFA or CONCACAF has expressed an interest in hosting.

Teams that have already submitted a bid can re-evaluate their interest in bidding, while new teams have until the end of August to express interest. The host nation will be announced in May 2020, with final bid sumbissions due in December.

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FIFA President Gianni Infantino said that expansion is more than just adding teams to the mix. “It means that, from now on, dozens more member associations will organize their women’s football program knowing they have a realistic chance of qualifying,” he said in a press release. “The FIFA Women’s World Cup is the most powerful trigger for the professionalization of the women’s game, but it comes but once every four years and is only the top of a much greater pyramid.”

Infantino continued to say that the vote was due to the success of the World Cup in France this summer. He said that the tournament “made it very clear that 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… becoming a reality,” he said.

The expansion also allows for more potential first-time teams to make their World Cup debut. This past summer, South Africa, Chile, Jamaica and Scotland made their tournament debuts. While none of the teams made it to the elimination rounds, they provided nail-biting and emotional moments. Players were able to make their names known with strong performances.

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