Alejandro Dominguez
President of Conmebol, Alejandro Dominguez. Image Credit: Reuters

Dubai: The Fifa Council is due to select the 2023 Women’s World Cup host through an online meeting on June 25.

But with a week to go, the South American Soccer Confederation (Conmebol) and the Colombian Football Federation (CFC) have accused Fifa of “discriminatory conclusions” in its evaluation report of Colombia’s bid to host the event.

Conmebol President Alejandro Domínguez and CFC President Ramon Jesurun have addressed a joint letter to the Fifa Council after Colombia received the lowest rating of the three contenders bidding to host the tournament in three years’ time.

Colombia’s bid for the 2023 Women’s World Cup will still go forward to the Fifa Council, who will need to decide the host between Japan and a joint bid between Australia and New Zealand. Brazil, who had also bid for the flagship women’s tournament, withdrew its bid at the beginning of June, citing financial concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As per the Fifa report, Australia and New Zealand’s joint bid received an average of 4.1 out of five, with Japan tallied 3.9 and Colombia is with a score of 2.8 with the evaluation report covering areas including stadiums, team facilities, accommodation, transport, security, event timing and commercial factors.

The letter from Domínguez and Jesurun took offence with Fifa’s criticism of the medical services, doping and commercial aspects of the bid, claiming “erroneous and discriminatory conclusions” had been made. They were further offended by references to terrorism in the report.

Fifa’s evaluation report said there had been a “significant reduction in domestic terrorism” in Colombia, but that “concerns remain in terms of the potential impact of crime on tournament stakeholders”.

Colombia had been further advised that it would need “a significant amount of investment and support from both local stakeholders and Fifa” to elevate its bid to the level of the other two bidders [Australia-New Zealand and Japan].

The joint letter from South America had a livid tone. “Colombia today lives in a time of stability and social peace, fruits of the efforts and maturity of its people. It denotes ignorance in relation to Colombia’s situation, and a lack of interest in carrying out, at least, minimal research of the situation in which this country finds itself currently,” Domínguez and Jesurun have said in their letter.

This is not the first time Conmebol has accused Fifa of discrimination this year, with Domínguez blasting the governing body of a “clear abuse of power” when the decision was taken to hold a Fifa Council meeting by video conference, citing the coronavirus crisis. The meeting was originally scheduled to take place in Asuncion in Paraguay on March 20.

Criticism also came in May after Fifa decided to temporarily allow teams to make five substitutes, with Domínguez claiming that Conmebol had not even been consulted on the move.