2023 Women’s World Cup

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8 countries stay in FIFA race to host 2023 Women’s World Cup

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ZURICH (AP) — Eight countries have stayed in the bidding contest to host the 2023 Women’s World Cup, with Belgium and Bolivia dropping out.

FIFA says it has sent “the updated bidding and hosting documents” to the eight member federations. They must file detailed bid plans for the first 32-team tournament by Dec. 13.

The eight are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Colombia, Japan, New Zealand, South Africa and South Korea.

The Korean bid could yet be a joint project with North Korea.

FIFA says all candidates will be inspected in January and February ahead of a FIFA Council vote expected in May.

Women’s World Cup will expand to 32 team in 2023

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The Women’s World Cup is ready to expand, in a move which certainly benefit the confederation which landed seven of the eight quarterfinalists at this summer’s tournament.

The 2023 tournament will include 32 teams, and the short-term results will be more growth of the game worldwide as well as a few more blowouts in the group stage.

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The tournament expansion also means the end of poor third-place teams getting spots in the knockout rounds.

According to FIFA, “The expansion reaches far beyond the eight additional participating teams; It means that, from now on, dozens more member associations will organie their women’s football program knowing they have a realistic chance of qualifying. The FIFA Women’s World Cup is the most powerful trigger for the professionalization of the women’s game, but it comes but once every four years and is only the top of a much greater pyramid.”

The big winners here are Europe and CONCACAF teams not named USA and Canada.

FIFA will only allow natural grass fields at 2023 Women’s WC

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FIFA will only allow natural grass fields at the 2023 Women’s World Cup.

The stipulation is contained in requirements sent to bidding nations and follows controversy over the use of artificial turf at the 2015 tournament in Canada.

Some players launched a gender discrimination case -which was later withdrawn – over FIFA’s use of turf four years ago because men’s World Cup games have always been on grass. They claimed the artificial surface is less forgiving than grass and impacts the game because of concerns over injury. They also claimed balls travel and bounce differently on artificial turf. FIFA said it wanted the same surface in every stadium.

This year’s 24-team tournament in France will be played on grass in nine venues. FIFA has made it clear artificial surfaces won’t be acceptable in 2023, either. What is permitted is the hybrid system used at many leading stadiums where millions of synthetic grass fibers are woven in between and beneath the natural grass.

“The pitch shall feature a natural grass playing surface,” FIFA’s bidding requirements state. “Hybrid-grass systems are considered natural grass according to FIFA’s requirements and hybrid reinforcement should be considered for stadium pitches.”

FIFA also is asking bidders to ensure that each training ground has at least one grass field.

There is record interest in hosting the 2023 tournament, with nine countries having expressed their intent to bid.

The most intriguing bid is by South Korea, which wants to combine with North Korea. But FIFA now includes an evaluation on human rights and worker conditions when assessing Women’s World Cup bidders, just like the new requirements for prospective hosts of the men’s tournament. That could prove problematic for North Korea, which would also have to provide visas in a “non-discriminatory manner” while currently being one of the most closed countries in the world.

From Asia, there also is interest in hosting from Australia and Japan. There are three potential bidders from South America: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil and Colombia. New Zealand and South Africa are also pursuing becoming candidates ahead of the April 16 deadline to register a bid. FIFA set an Oct. 4 deadline to submit bid books.

The 37-member FIFA Council will pick the host in March next year after inspectors produce bid evaluation reports.

The bidding document also states that the opening game and final must be played in venues with at least 55,000 seats. For other games up to the quarterfinals, 20,000 seats are required. The semifinals must be played in 35,000-capacity venues.

In the technical evaluation, five aspects of infrastructure will be given grades between zero and five: stadiums, team and referee facilities, accommodation, the international broadcast center site and other competition-related sites. There’s also a score on commercial matters, including revenue and costs projections.

“The scores received may have a bearing on whether or not the bid is eligible for consideration by, or presentation to, the FIFA Council,” the bidding documents state. “FIFA reserves the right to deem the bid ineligible on the basis that a bid does not achieve the minimum scores” of 2.0 for the overall mark, or stadiums, accommodation and facilities for teams and referees.

Korean plan among nine possible bids for 2023 Women’s World Cup

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ZURICH (AP) FIFA says nine soccer federations are interested in hosting the 2023 Women’s World Cup including South Korea, which could jointly bid with North Korea.

Brazil and South Africa are in the contest, suggesting underused stadiums built to host the 2014 and 2010 World Cups could be picked.

Other contenders are Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Colombia, Japan and New Zealand.

South Korean officials said this month that FIFA approached them to explore a joint bid with North Korea.

Potential candidates have until April 16 to register to bid, then until Oct. 4 to submit bid books.

FIFA now includes a human rights evaluation when assessing World Cup bidders.

The 37-member FIFA Council will pick the host in March next year.

The next Women’s World Cup is played June 7-July 7 in France.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Unlike men’s World Cup, no public vote on women’s event host

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LONDON (AP) FIFA will still decide the host of the Women’s World Cup in secret, unlike the new open vote held last year for host of the 2026 men’s tournament.

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The 2023 bidding process was launched Tuesday, and FIFA adopted many of the rigorous checks and scrutiny prospective men’s hosts now have to go through.

But the final decision is a very different process.

Following corruption investigations into the vote for men’s hosts in 2018 and 2022, FIFA removed the decision from its ruling committee and gave it to all member associations. When it came to deciding the 2026 men’s hosts last year, the votes were made public after the FIFA Congress chose the joint bid from the United States, Mexico and Canada over Morocco’s entry.

But in March 2020 it will be the FIFA Council, a select group of 37 people which meets in private, deciding where the women’s top players will compete in 2023.

“FIFA’s Statutes explicitly stipulate that the selection of venues for the final competitions of all tournaments rests with the FIFA Council with the exception of the FIFA World Cup, where there power lies with the Congress,” world football’s governing body said in a statement to The Associated Press on Tuesday.

[ MORE: CONCACAF Champions League returns with TFC, Houston ]

FIFA on Tuesday asked countries to make an expression of interest in bidding by March 15, complete the bidding registration by April 16 and submit bid books by Oct. 4.

No mention was made of bidders having to go through the key procedures, described as “bulletproof” by FIFA President Gianni Infantino, that were required of 2026 World Cup contenders. Those included an assessment of human rights and risk reports for the countries, the publication of bid books, inspections of facilities and evaluation reports.

Ninety minutes after the AP asked about this lack of scrutiny and transparency, FIFA said it would be emulating those aspects of the new men’s World Cup hosting requirements.

Australia and Colombia have announced plans to bid for the 2023 Women’s World Cup.

FIFA Chief Women’s Football Officer Sarai Bareman said it wants to see “how potential host countries will aim to promote the ultimate competition in women’s football, and create a sustainable legacy that will inspire upcoming generations of young girls and women to get involved in the game.”

The next edition is this year in France from June 7 to July 7.