When the FIFA Women’s World Cup kicks off in 2023 in a yet to be determined country, there will be 32 teams contesting.
This is sequel to the expansion of the competition from the current 24 teams to 32.
The FIFA Council on Wednesday approved the expansion even as it reopened the bidding process for potential hosts.
The tournament has steadily increased the number of participating teams from 12 in the first edition in 1991 to 24 teams in the last two editions.
“The FIFA Council has unanimously agreed to a proposal to expand the number of teams taking part in the women’s World Cup from 24 to 32, with effect as of the next edition of the tournament in 2023,” it said in a statement.
The expansion will mean it will now be on par with the men’s tournament which has had 32 teams since 1998.
Nine countries have so far submitted bids including Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Japan, New Zealand, South Africa and South Korea.
The deadline for submitting bid documents to host the next World Cup was in April, with a host due to be appointed in March 2020 by the FIFA council, but the timeline has now been updated after the expansion. It added:
FIFA will send a circular next month to the nine member associations that submitted bids as well as any other eligible member association that is interested in hosting the tournament.
The new deadline for bid submissions is December 2019 with the hosts expected to be appointed in May next year.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino said the success of the 2019 edition in France, where the United States were crowned world champions for a fourth time, and the incentive for more countries to qualify were key factors in the decision to expand the tournament to 32 teams. Infantino said:
“The expansion reaches far beyond the eight additional participating teams. It means that… dozens more member associations will organise their women’s football programme knowing they have a realistic chance of qualifying.”