Zurich, Aug 1: The international governing body of soccer, FIFA has approved the expansion of the Women's World Cup from the existing 24 teams to 32 for the 2023 edition and reopened the bidding process for potential hosts."The FIFA Council has unanimously agreed to a proposal to expand the number of teams taking part in the women's World Cup from 24 to 32, with effect as of the next edition of the tournament in 2023", FIFA said in a statement on Wednesday.
'Having been presented with a background document on the expansion, FIFA’s decision-making body voted in favour of adopting the 32-team format and, as a consequence, updating the hosting requirements and the timeline of the bidding process for 2023, the statement added. The tournament has steadily increased the number of participating teams from 12 in the first edition in 1991 to 24 teams in the last two editions. With this expansion, it will be now equal to the men’s tournament which has had 32 teams since 1998.
Speaking over the development, 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', he added.
Nine countries including Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Japan, New Zealand, South Africa and South Korea have so far submitted bids for hosting the mega event.Earlier, the deadline for submitting bid documents to host the next World Cup was in April, with a host due to be appointed in March 2020 by the FIFA council, but the timeline has been now extended after the expansion. (UNI)