SYDNEY          -        Australia and New Zealand were handed the right to host the 2023 Women’s World Cup soccer tournament after a vote by the FIFA Council on Thursday. Their joint bid beat the rival bid from Colombia to host the tournament which is being expanded to 32 teams. Japan, who had also put forward a proposal to host the tournament, pulled out after they were ranked below the joint bid by world governing body FIFA’s evaluation report. The report highlighted the infrastructure and organisational advantages of the Australia/New Zealand bid which FIFA believed would make for a commercially successful tournament. There had been media reports that the vote could be tight with UEFA’s European representatives backing Colombia but in the end the margin of victory was comfortable with Australia and New Zealand gaining 22 votes to Colombia’s 13.

The 2019 World Cup in France was hailed as a watershed for global interest in the women’s game and FIFA President Gianni Infantino personally drove the campaign to increase the field to 32 teams from 24 for 2023. Infantino had also expressed a preference for the successful joint bid during the FIFA Council meeting.