Sydney Opera House is lit in celebration of Australia and New Zealand’s joint bid to host the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023
Sydney Opera House is lit in celebration of Australia and New Zealand’s joint bid to host the Fifa Women’s World Cup 2023 Image Credit: AFP

The 2023 women’s World Cup will be held in Australia and New Zealand after the countries’ joint bid was chosen by Fifa on Thursday.

The favourites won ahead of their only rival Colombia, with Japan having withdrawn its own bid earlier in the week and Brazil, Argentina, South Africa and a joint Korean bid already having fallen by the wayside.

The 2023 tournament is set to be the first 32-team women’s World Cup, up from the 24 nations who competed at last year’s finals in France, won by the United States. It will be the ninth World Cup.

The joint proposal by Australia and New Zealand will see games played in 13 venues across 12 cities in July and August 2023, with the opening match at Eden Park in Auckland and the final in Sydney.

Seven cities in Australia will host games, and five in New Zealand.

Thursday’s vote came at a video-conference meeting of the 37 members of the Fifa Council as football, and global sport in general, struggles to get back on its feet in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Australia and New Zealand bid was given the highest score, of 4.1 out of five, in an evaluation by world football’s governing body published earlier this month.

It was followed by Japan, on 3.9, but the Japanese bid was withdrawn on Monday, with the head of the country’s Football Association, Kozo Tajima, noting that key support was moving towards Australia and New Zealand.

In addition, he admitted that Japan’s focus was on hosting next year’s Olympics in Tokyo.

Fifa’s evaluation report gave Colombia a score of just 2.8 out of five as it raised doubts about the ability to provide investment required to carry out “necessary improvements” and also highlighted security worries in the South American country.