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FIFA increases Women’s World Cup slots to 32, extends deadline for 2023 bids

Football’s world governing body, FIFA, has updated its requirement as well as extended the deadline for countries to submit their bids to host the 2023 Women’s World Cup (WWC) to reflect the increment in the number of participating teams from 24 to 32.

On Wednesday, FIFA’s Executive Council unanimously agreed to increase the number of participating teams with effect from the next WWC and though nine countries had initially submitted their bids for the tournament, those countries will be required to review their bid documents to include their capability to deal with the expanded tournament.

In reviewing their bid documents, the countries interested in hosting the 2023 WWC would have to reconfirm their interest in bidding with the numbers increased, while new interests would also be admitted.

Consequently, the date for the submission of bid documents, initially fixed for October 4, 2019, has been extended to December 2019.

The publication of the Bid Evaluation report will be released in April 2020 with the winners eventually being announced in May of that same year.

While the number of teams have been increased, FIFA is yet to agree on the slots to be alloted the various  confederations and the governing body has indicated that it would consult the to develop a proposal for the slot allocation which will then be approved by the FIFA Council.

The football world governing body attributes the increment in the participating teams to the huge success of the 2019 WWC staged in France which saw one of the best performances from the participating teams, with USA, winning a record fourth and a back to back tournament.

“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,” said FIFA President Gianni Infantino.

“The expansion reaches far beyond the eight additional participating teams; it means that, from now on, dozens more member associations will organise their women’s football programme knowing they have a realistic chance of qualifying.

“The FIFA Women’s World Cup is the most powerful trigger for the professionalisation of the women’s game, but it comes but once every four years and is only the top of a much greater pyramid.

“In the meantime, we all have a duty to do the groundwork and strengthen women’s football development infrastructure across all confederations,” Infantino indicated.

In proposing the slots with the increased numbers, several factors would be considered including the development of the game in the various confederations and performances of their representatives at the tournament.

Women’s World Cup expansion

From an initial 12 teams to start the official Women’s World Cup in 1991, the tournament has seen a steady progress in the number of participating teams with a record 24 at the 2019 tournament staged in France.

That will again see some increment during the 2023 tournament at a yet to be announced host country.

Apart from Oceania Confederation which has not been able to get its slot increased from one, the other five confederations have had their numbers increased with each increment, Europe and Asia being the biggest  winners with Africa earning a modest gain.

From five slots in 1991, Europe now has eight slots, while Asia has had its slots increased from two in 1991 to three in 2011 and now five.

Africa’s single slot in 1991 and 1995 was claimed by Nigeria. In 1999, it was increased to two and saw Ghana’s Black Queens qualifying for their debut tournament at the 1999 tournament.

In 2015, Africa’s slot was again increased to three for the 24 –team tournament.

However, no Africa side have been able to reach the medal zone, apart from Nigeria who have reached the quarter-finals in 1999 and also the Round of 16 in 2019 just as Cameroon.

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