The FIFA Council has unanimously agreed to expand the number of teams competing in the Women’s World Cup from 24 to 32, effective from the 2023 edition of the tournament.
The bidding process for the 2023 Women’s World Cup is already underway, with interested parties having submitted proposals on the assumption that it would be a 24-team tournament.
Bidders had initially been expected to submit their bid books by 4th October but the deadline has now been extended until December following FIFA’s announcement. Current bidding member associations will be required to reconfirm their interest in bidding this month, while any other eligible member associations wishing to bid must also outline their intention to do so.
Nations that had originally expressed an interest in hosting the 2023 Women’s World Cup include Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Japan, New Zealand, South Africa and South Korea, which could submit a joint bid with neighbouring North Korea.
FIFA has set April 2020 as the expected publication date for the Bid Evaluation Report, with the host nation, or nations, set to be announced the following month. FIFA will also initiate a consultation process with Confederations to develop a proposal for how many slots are granted for each region. This will then require approval by the FIFA Council.
The 2023 tournament will feature eight groups of four. This year’s competition in France featured six groups of four, with the top two teams from each group and the four best third-place finishers progressing to the round of 16.
USA won its second successive Women’s World Cup in France with a 2-0 victory over the Netherlands in the final.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino said: “The astounding success of this year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup in France 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 – the first of several − becoming a reality.
“The expansion reaches far beyond the eight additional participating teams; it means that, from now on, dozens more member associations will organise their women’s football programme knowing they have a realistic chance of qualifying. The FIFA Women’s World Cup is the most powerful trigger for the professionalisation of the women’s game, but it comes but once every four years and is only the top of a much greater pyramid.
"In the meantime, we all have a duty to do the groundwork and strengthen women’s football development infrastructure across all confederations."