FIFA has began conducting virtual workshops with the 12 Australian and New Zealand candidate cities hoping to host matches at the 2023 Women’s World Cup.
- Adelaide, Brisbane, Launceston, Melbourne, Newcastle, Perth and Sydney are the Australian cities hoping to host matches
- FIFA’s virtual workshops will give bid cities to chance to present their latest legacy and logistical plans
- The 2023 Women’s World Cup will feature 32 teams playing across Australia and New Zealand
Football Federation Australia (FFA) has described the workshops, which will be held over the next two weeks, as a “significant milestone” following FIFA’s decision to award Australia and New Zealand hosting rights for the tournament.
FIFA, along with FFA and New Zealand Football, will detail the selection process, with bid cities to have the opportunity to present their latest legacy and logistical plans.
The Australian cities hoping to be selected are Adelaide, Brisbane, Launceston, Melbourne, Newcastle, Perth and Sydney.
New Zealand cities in the running are Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin, Hamilton and Wellington.
The last Women’s World Cup, held in France in 2019, was staged across nine cities, although since that tournament the number of competing nations has expanded from 24 to 32.
FFA’s Women’s World Cup 2023 head Jane Fernandez said FIFA would be looking closely at several items in the selection process.
“They’ll make the decision based on all the work that is being done now, to analyse all of the stadiums, all of the infrastructure, the costs, and things like this, and that will determine the (final) number of stadiums,” she told The Ticket.
“The virtual workshops will include not only each city telling their story about the infrastructure, but definitely they also need to explain what the legacy will be to their city by hosting the Women’s World Cup in 2023.
FFA head of game development and retired Australian international, Sarah Walsh, said participation was at the foundation of the legacy framework.
“It’s fair to say it’s (participation) one of the most supported (legacy components) by FIFA,” she said.
“They’re really keen to see how we’re going to boost participation, which means building capabilities in the current system and the 2,000-plus clubs … and on top of that it’s delivering modified products like ‘soccer mums’ and social programs that create more flexibility in the offering for women of all ages.”
FFA wants to cater for women ‘of all backgrounds’
FFA also hopes the removal of barriers for women in other areas of the game will be one of the lasting positives.
Walsh said creating pathways for women to take up roles in areas such as communications, media, coaching, refereeing, and administration — particularly in decision-making roles — was crucial.
She said it was important to build support programs, and mentoring and leadership programs, and to also “think about whether we look at quotas and putting that into our coaching courses”.
“We want to make sure our game is accessible to women of all backgrounds,” Walsh said.
“So there’s an Indigenous element in there, there’s CALD (culturally and linguistically diverse) communities and [people of] all abilities.”
FIFA is hoping the 2023 Women’s World Cup — the first to be co-hosted by two confederations (Asia and Oceania) — will drive growth in the South Pacific and in the world’s most populous countries, China and India.
“This is something that FIFA are very interested in,” Walsh said.
“Because obviously hosting a World Cup between Australia and New Zealand is great for our two countries but how can we utilise this to build a platform for other countries and deliver some of our programs into Asia and Oceania?”
Fernandez said the final cost of the World Cup would be determined once decisions were made around the number of stadiums and host cities.
“Whilst I’m sure FIFA has a number of different budgets being prepared, the final number won’t be known until the selection has been completed,” she said.
“But we know that the Australian (federal and state) governments have committed up to $94.4 million … a significant investment, and it shows the value governments place on hosting the tournament.”
FFA chief executive James Johnson said the Women’s World Cup was a key component of his organisation’s “XI Principles”, the title given to its plan for the future of the game in Australia.
“Australia’s co-hosting of the next FIFA Women’s World Cup ensures that we continue to be a globally-minded organisation, and will play a significant role in ensuring Australia becomes the centre of women’s football in the Asia-Pacific region,” he said in an FFA statement.
FIFA delegates will visit each of the candidate cities once COVID-19 restrictions have eased. The successful bid cities are expected to be announced by March next year.