MELBOURNE – In the midst of all the doom and gloom of the current world situation, a shining light of positivity shined down on fans of women’s football in Australia and New Zealand Friday morning when they learned they’d won their bid to host FIFA’s next women’s football World Cup.
This announcement is massive news not only for Australian football, but for women’s sport in general in this country.
This win to host in 2023 was historical in a number of ways. Not only is it the first time that either nation will host a FIFA World Cup, it will also be the first time the tournament has been hosted by countries from different world regions, also known as confederations, the first time the tournament is hosted in the Asia Pacific and the first time the tournament is held in the southern hemisphere.
After Japan dropped out of the race only a few days before the vote, the only bids left in the race were the joint Aus/NZ bid and a bid from Colombia. Going into the vote, the Aus/NZ bid was considered the stronger of the two and the favorite to win, and it ultimately came out on top in the vote by FIFA delegates.
There was some fear among Australian fans leading up to the vote when reports said it would be a tighter vote than anticipated. But when the announcement came through, the Aus/NZ bid was comfortably the winner at 22 votes to 13.
In 2010 Australia lost out in what was later determined to be a corrupt bidding process of the 2018 and 2022 men’s World Cups. The reports of potentially suspicious voting leading up to the vote this year brought back fears and memories for many Australian football fans.
Popularity and respect for women’s sports has been growing in Australia in recent years, and hosting the World Cup will no doubt vastly improve the gains made in women’s football here.
The FIFA World Cup will be a continuation of Australia hosting some of the biggest women’s world cups all within the space of a few years, including the Twenty 20 Cricket World Cup earlier this year and the Basketball World Cup in 2022.
Throughout the bidding process, Australians and New Zealanders clearly supported the joint bid. Fans were able to show they backed the effort on the bid’s website, and in the end over 805,000 people had registered their support.
Alyce Collett is a Correspondent with Youth Journalism International.