FIFA expands Women's World Cup to 32 teams beginning in 2023 with unanimous vote

FIFA voted to expand the Women's World Cup to grow the game and bring in more fans like those for the USWNT. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

The 2023 Women’s World Cup will be expanded to 32 teams, FIFA announced Wednesday afternoon in a media release. The FIFA Council unanimously voted in favor of moving from 24 teams to 32 after president Gianni Infantino requested last week it be fast-tracked within days and without a formal meeting.

In voting to expand the tournament immediately, the council also agreed to shift dates for the 2023 Women’s World Cup bidding process.

FIFA expands to 32-team Women’s World Cup

Expanding the tournament was one part of a five-point plan Infantino outlined during the World Cup final. In his statement he said FIFA will also work to further strengthen the sport across every confederation.

“The astounding success of this year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup in France 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. I am glad to see this proposal — the first of several — becoming a reality,” Infantino said in the release.

The 2019 tournament set viewership records around the world and was lauded as the deepest tournament yet. Alex Morgan said she stands with FIFA “for once” in its move to expand the tournament immediately.

The U.S. had to get through Sweden in the group stage, the country that knocked them out of the 2016 Olympics, as well as France and England in the knockout rounds.

Netherlands put up a fight in the final, becoming the first of seven teams to keep the U.S. from scoring within the firsts 12 minutes of the match. The USWNT won a second consecutive World Cup title as one of arguably the greatest teams of all time, not because the competition was weak.

Infantino called the Women’s World Cup “the most powerful trigger for the professionalization of the women’s game.”

Adding eight teams will provide incentive for other countries to invest more in their women’s soccer teams since there is a better chance of making the premier event. It will in turn expand the talent pool further. FIFA said it will consult with confederations to determine a proposal for how the extra slots are allocated.

Bidding for 2023 World Cup extended

Bidders for the 2023 Women’s World Cup were expected to have everything submitted by Oct. 4, but with more teams to house and more games to host FIFA extended the timeline as expected.

FIFA announced it will send out information in August to have those currently bidding reconfirm interest and ask any others interested to submit a proposal. The deadline is December.

Bid evaluations done by FIFA are expected April 2020 and a decision in May.

Countries that have submitted bids for a 24-team tournament are Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Japan, South and North Korea (joint bid), South Africa and New Zealand.

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