Australia and New Zealand win bid to to host 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup
Credit: ABC Australia By Jacqueline Howard 26/6/2020
Australia and New Zealand have been successful in their historic joint bid to host the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup
The trans-Tasman bid beat out that of final rival Colombia by 22 votes to 13 at the FIFA council meeting in Zurich early this morning.
The tournament will be the first-ever co-Confederation hosted FIFA World Cup (Australia, being part of the Asian football confederation and New Zealand a member of the Oceanic branch), as well as the first-ever FIFA Women's World Cup to be held in the Asia-Pacific region.
After previous bidders Japan and Brazil each pulled out of the race in recent days, Australia and New Zealand were up against Colombia alone.
The joint bid was favourite to win after the technical audit scores were released at the beginning of June, which indicate the capability of a country to host the large-scale event.
Australia received a very respectable score of 4.1 out of five, and Colombia a 2.8.
Colombia, which did not qualify for the 2019 Women's World Cup, was voted for by most of the nine voters from European soccer body UEFA.
In hosting the event, the Matildas and the Football Ferns will not be required to win qualifying matches and are automatically through to the opening round.
It was also announced that the 2023 World Cup would be larger than previous tournaments, with the number of teams who start the group stage of the final tournament expanding from 24 to 32 teams.
FIFA Council President Gianni Infantino hailed the expanded tournament.
"It will be even more global and have much positive impact on the development of women's football," Mr Infantino said.
Football Federation Australia chairman Chris Nikou said the successful bid was an enormous opportunity to grow football in the region.
"FIFA today has made not one, but two countries very happy," Mr Nikou said.
"Our pledge to the FIFA family is that no stone will be left unturned to produce the best World Cup and grow the women's game globally and in the Asia-Pacific region."
New Zealand Football Federation president Johanna Wood promised the two nations would work together to deliver a tournament to remember.
"Chris and I and the whole bidding team are extremely delighted with the result," she said.
"We've always said with this bid, that it is as one and making history and creating opportunities."
Players from both nations rejoice
Matildas defender Ellie Carpenter had earlier told the Nine Network's Today show that the team had gathered in Sydney to receive the news together.
"It would be extraordinary to have a FIFA Women's World Cup on home soil. We just dream of playing in a World Cup, let alone in our own backyard," Carpenter had said.
And on Friday morning the good news was met with capital letters, emojis and exclamation marks aplenty as players from the Matildas and the Football Ferns celebrated.
Matildas star Sam Kerr tweeted a gif of her celebrating a goal by doing a backflip, it followed another tweet that said "we did it. We freaking did it".
"THE WORLD IS COMING TO AUSTRALIA & NEW ZEALAND IN 2023 We did it!" tweeted positionally versatile Matilda Jenna McCormick
The reaction of some of the members of the New Zealand squad was recorded and comprised of screams of joy, followed by chants of "yes".
Football Ferns skipper Ali Riley posted a tearful selfie and joked with Matildas counterpart Sam Kerr about celebrating with a backflip
Hosting rights extra sweet after 2022 World Cup bid failure
The win was sweet redemption in many ways for Australian soccer after the nation was handed heartbreak during the bidding process for what will become the Qatar 2022 World Cup.
In 2010, Australia vied for the hosting rights of the 2022 men's tournament, but received just one vote during a secret ballot, and was knocked out in the first round.
The bid was backed by $46 million of Federal Government funds but controversy followed as Qatar was chosen instead.
That bidding process opened up an investigation that found layers upon layers of corruption throughout FIFA and resulted in FBI raids on the offices of the governing body and a slew of arrests.
Regardless, many past and present Socceroos shared the joy of the Matildas and Australian soccer fans alike, with one of Australia's most celebrated players, Tim Cahill leading the way saying he was "lost for words".