FIFA president Gianni Infantino
FIFA president Gianni Infantino Image Credit: AFP

Rio De Janeiro: The Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) announced it is withdrawing from the race to host the 2023 Women's World Cup because of belt-tightening implemented in response to the coronavirus pandemic, throwing its support behind Colombia instead.

The CBF said the outbreak, which has hit Brazil especially hard, made it difficult to secure the public and private funding and other commitments needed to mount a competitive bid.

"Because of fiscal and economic austerity measures taken to respond to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, (the Brazilian government) indicated it would not be advisable at this time to sign the guarantees requested by FIFA," the CBF said in a statement Monday.

Its withdrawal leaves Colombia, Japan and a joint bid from Australia and New Zealand in a three-way race to host the tournament.

FIFA is expected to announce the decision on June 25.

South America has never hosted the tournament. The CBF said it believed a "single candidacy will increase South America's chances."

Brazil's economy has taken a beating as the country has emerged as the latest epicenter in the pandemic, with the World Bank forecasting a painful eight-percent recession this year.

The country has recorded 37,134 COVID-19 deaths so far, the third-highest toll in the world, after the United States and Britain.