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Women’s World Cup: FIFA to expand event to 32 teams in 2023

The Women’s World Cup will be expanded from 24 to 32 teams at the 2023 edition FIFA revealed in an announcement made on Wednesday 31 July.

FIFA said the move was an effort to “foster the growth of women’s football”, after an incredible 2019 World Cup.

The governing body’s president Gianni Infantino had already declared his determination to push ahead with plans to expand the World Cup in time for the next tournament. Infantino hailed the recent tournament 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. Infantino had pressed for the expansion to take place at Qatar 2022 but regional tensions scuppered his plans.

“I am glad to see this proposal -– the first of several -− becoming a reality.”

The United States won the 2019 edition after a 24-team tournament that featured a few lopsided scores in the group stage. The Americans’ 13-0 thrashing of Thailand made headlines.

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.

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Sibulele Holweni of South Africa is challenged by Rui Zhang of China during the 2019 Women’s World Cup. Photo: Getty Images

South Africa are among the nine candidates to host the event alongside Australia, Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea, potentially in partnership 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 in 1991 with a tournament that featured 12 teams.

More Teams and more World Cup money

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.”

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