FIFA president Gianni Infantino has revealed his desire to expand the Women’s World Cup to 32 teams.
The hosts for the 2023 World Cup have yet to be decided and the bidding process may have to start again if the competition is expanded once again. The 2015 edition was the first to have 24 teams, and this summer’s tournament in France has been a huge success with the same number of teams.
[ MORE: Latest 2019 World Cup news ]
Speaking in France ahead of the 2019 final in Lyon between the USA and Netherlands on Sunday, Infantino revealed that increasing the number of teams from 24 to 32 was a realistic possibility.
“I want to expand the tournament to 32 teams,” Infantino said. “We will have to act quickly to decide if we are to increase it for 2023, if we do, we should reopen the bidding process to allow everyone to have a chance or maybe co-host. Nothing is impossible.”
Infantino also went on to describe the 2019 World Cup the best-ever in the women’s game, which is hard to disagree with given TV viewership records being set across the globe, and went on to state that the prize money of $30 million for this tournament will be doubled to $60 million for 2023.
“It’s a great thing, this World Cup, but then people forget, they do other things. It’s our job to make sure that they don’t forget and we don’t just say: ‘See you in four years,'” Infainto said. “That’s why I propose to the FIFA council and to all our members – who have to embrace the development of women’s football. We have already more than doubled the prize money for the World Cup this year, but we will double it again for the next World Cup – I am very confident that we can do that.”
FIFA’s president also stated that investment in the women’s game over the next four-year cycle would move over $1 billion and that he wants to set up a Club World Cup as soon as possible.
These are all worthy initiatives, especially when it comes to extra funding for the women’s game. The increased prize fund for the 2023 competition is all well and good, but the last 32-team men’s World Cup, in Russia in 2018, saw over $400 million dished out in prize money and the 2026 World Cup will see 48 teams enter the competition.
The main reason increased funding is crucial to the success of the women’s game is that associations and nations across the globe need access to it in order to compete on the international level.
We don’t want more blowout wins like we’ve seen at the last two women’s World Cups, so the main way to halt that trend is to dish out cash to national teams who don’t currently have access to it in order to develop young players and give them the resources to be able to challenge the more established nations.
These are all positive noises coming from Infantino, but let’s see if FIFA can back up these claims after a hugely successful tournament in France this summer.