Australia and New Zealand win bid to host 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup

The FIFA Women's World Cup is heading down under, with FIFA President Gianni Infantino backing Australia and New Zealand to deliver the "best world cup ever".

Australian soccer players Steph Catley, Alanna Kennedy and Lydia Williams react as FIFA announced Australia as the hosts to the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup.

Australian soccer players Steph Catley, Alanna Kennedy and Lydia Williams celebrate as FIFA announces Australia as the hosts of the 2023 Women's World Cup. Source: Getty

Australia and New Zealand will host the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup.

In the early hours of Friday, FIFA announced the Australia-Kiwi joint bid beat Colombia, receiving 22 of the valid 35 votes from the FIFA Council.

The Sydney Opera House and Auckland's Sky Tower were lit up to celebrate.

The Sydney Opera House just before the announcement.
Source: AAP

The event, to take place between July and August 2023, will feature 32 teams for the first time, an increase from 24 teams at the last tournament in 2019.

The Matildas were jubilant in the early hours of Friday, the team having gathered with officials at the Football Federation Australia offices to watch the live announcement.

A video clip on Twitter showed the moment they discovered they'd netted the event, the women jumping out of their seats to cheer and hug one another.

"We did it. We freaking did it," Matildas captain Sam Kerr tweeted, followed by a clip of her doing somersaults, captioned "Me right now".

Matildas player Kyah Simon told SBS News before the result was announced that to play a world cup at home was a dream for any player.

"You dream as a little girl to play in a world cup but to do that on your home soil in front of your family and friends, in a packed-out stadium of green and gold, you can't really ask for a better tournament," Ms Simon said.

Australia initially planned to bid for the 2023 tournament alone, before combining forces with New Zealand to officially submit a joint bid in December 2019.

The Japan Football Association on Monday announced that it was pulling out of the race to leave the joint bid from down under to duke it out with Colombia.

Matildas Alanna Kennedy puts her hands together as FIFA announce the hosts to the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup at the FFA Offices.
Source: Getty Images AsiaPac

Australia and New Zealand received the highest score in FIFA's technical evaluation - earning 4.1 out of five in the report compared to Colombia's 2.8.

There were 37 FIFA Council members but only 35 could vote, as New Zealand's Johanna Wood and Colombia's Ramon Jesurun were ineligible.

Australia and the Kiwis were working on the bid until just before the announcement.

"We continue to work the phones, there's still a bit of work to do, it is very tight in my view. So we will continue to work right until the end," FFA chairman Chris Nikou told SBS News late Thursday.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was also personally hitting the phones on Thursday in an attempt to secure the tournament.

It comes ten years after Australia failed in its bid to host the FIFA Men's World Cup.

The tournament will take place across 12 cities in Australia and New Zealand, with Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Newcastle, Launceston to be the Australian hosts.

Wellington, Christchurch, Hamilton, Dunedin will host the New Zealand fixtures alongside Auckland.

The opening match will be played at Eden Park in Auckland and the final in Sydney.

The Women's World Cup trophy.
Source: AAP

FIFA president Gianni Infantino said with 32 countries involved, the event was "the biggest boost ever for women's football".

"We welcome that and I am sure we will have the best World Cup ever, in Australia and New Zealand," Mr Infantino said.

Mr Infantino said deciding who to award his vote to was a "difficult decision", but he couldn't ignore FIFA's technical evaluation.

"I love Colombia and I am sure they would have been able to organise a fantastic tournament. But at the end of the day we have to look and analyse and look at the bids," he said.

"FIFA in the past has been accused of not giving enough attention to the technical evaluation reports. But we have to show that these reports mean something or we are going to have to stop organising biddings.

"If that was not the case with the old FIFA well it won't be with the new FIFA and I am very proud of that."

Football Federation Australia chairman Chris Nikou said the successful bid was an enormous opportunity to grow football in the region.

"FIFA today has made not one, but two countries very happy," said Mr Nikou.

"We know there is a lot of work to be done. But our pledge to the FIFA family is that no stone will be left unturned to produce the best World Cup and grow the women's game globally and in the Asia-Pacific region."

New Zealand Football Federation president Johanna Wood promised the two nations would work together to deliver a tournament to remember.

"Chris and I and the whole bidding team are extremely delighted with the result," she said.

"We've always said with this bid, that it is as one and making history and creating opportunities.

"Chris mentioned when he spoke to council that this is a gift we have been given and we add to that by saying we have been given a treasure.

"We will look after the treasure and make women's football even more front and centre and we will do that as a team."

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his New Zealand counterpart Jacinda Ardern released a joint statement on Friday morning, labelling the news "a landmark decision for women’s sport in our region".

"For the first time in history, Australians and New Zealanders will be able to experience a tier one football tournament on home soil," the statement read.

"The 2023 event will be the largest, and no doubt the best, Women’s World Cup that has ever been staged.

"This is a huge positive for the footballing and sporting industries on both sides of the Tasman as we recover and rebuild from COVID-19."

The tournament would help drive Australia's goal of achieving a 50/50 split of male and female participation in the game by 2027, and build on New Zealand’s 35 per cent increase in female participation over the past five years, the statement said.

"As sporting nations we have had a long history of producing some of the best female footballers in the world and this tournament will further inspire our next generation and provide the platform for them to compete on the world stage."


Published 26 June 2020 at 4:05am, updated 26 June 2020 at 8:00am
Source: SBS News