Australia and New Zealand have secured the rights to host the 2023 Women’s World Cup, beating off competition from Colombia.
Australia and New Zealand won a Fifa Council vote yesterday by 22 votes to 13. The winning bid was the overwhelming favourite, but a surprise decision by Uefa delegates to vote for Colombia created some last-minute tension. Adding to the suspense were reports that English Football Association chairman Greg Clarke had refused to take a phone call from New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern earlier in the week. Australia and New Zealand will co-host the ninth edition of the tournament, marking the first time two confederations have joined forces to deliver the tournament. New Zealand is in the Oceania Football Confederation, while Australia switched from Oceania to the Asian Football Confederation in 2006. It will also be the first Women’s World Cup in the Asia-Pacific region and the first to be held in the southern hemisphere.
The two countries were favourites to host the tournament after securing the highest score in Fifa’s evaluation report assessing three potential hosts in early June. The joint bid scored 4.1 out of five, while Japan scored 3.9 and Colombia scored 2.8. The Australia and New Zealand bid secured strong financial commitments from each country’s government, causing Fifa to rank theirs as the most “commercially-favourable” bid. Fifa president Gianni Infantino said he was surprised by Uefa’s vote but said it represented “democracy”. Japan’s withdrawal from the running earlier this week ensured the Australia and New Zealand bid received full backing from the AFC and its seven votes on the Fifa Council. Gianni Infantino is also reported to have backed the bid, as did the Oceania Football Confederation, all members of the council from the Confederation of African Football and Concacaf, which represents North and Central America and the Caribbean.
The votes were cast on Thursday afternoon by 35 members of the 37-strong Fifa Council. New Zealand’s Johanna Wood and Colombia’s Ramon Jesrun were ineligible to vote.