PARIS — The Women’s World Cup will be expanded from 24 to 32 teams at the 2023 edition in an effort to “foster the growth of women’s football”, FIFA said on Wednesday.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino had already said that he was determined to push ahead with plans to expand the World Cup in time for the next tournament after hailing France 2019 as “the best ever”.
“The astounding success of this year’s World Cup made it very clear that this is the time to keep the momentum going and take concrete steps to foster the growth of women’s football,” said Infantino, who has succeeded in expanding the men’s tournament from 32 teams to 48 in time for the 2026 finals in the USA, Mexico and Canada.
“I am glad to see this proposal — the first of several — becoming a reality.”
The 2019 final was won by the United States although the 24-team tournament featured a few lopsided scores in the group stage, notably the Americans’ 13-0 thrashing of Thailand.
On Wednesday, the FIFA Council unanimously agreed to a proposal to expand the number of teams taking part.
FIFA has yet to select a host for the 2023 World Cup. The nine candidates are Australia, Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Japan, South Africa, New Zealand and South Korea, potentially with North Korea.
The 2019 Women’s World Cup was only the second since it was expanded from 16 teams to 24 in Canada four years ago. The competition started out with 12 teams in 1991.
Infantino has already promised to double the prize fund for the next Women’s World Cup having initially raised overall contributions from $15 million to $50 million in time for this year’s competition.
He said the increase was part of a wider plan to invest a further $500 million in the women’s game to achieve a total of $1 billion over the next four years.
“We have more than $2.75 billion of reserves, we don’t need all this money in the Swiss banks, they have enough money,” said the 49-year-old.
“We need to invest this in order to make the whole movement around the world grow.” — AFP