In the early hours of the morning on Friday, Australia and New Zealand will find out if they have been successful in their joint bid to host the 2023 Women’s World Cup.
Is the bid likely to be successful? Who are the competing bids? What will happen if Australia-New Zealand gets the nod?
We seek to answer all your questions below.
Why is Australia’s bid special?
There’s a lot to like about Australia-New Zealand 2023 — not least because it means a senior FIFA tournament will be played on our doorstep for the first time.
The bid is unique in that it will be the first time an effort split over two Confederations (Asia and Oceania) will have successfully tendered to host a major FIFA tournament.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described the bid has “historic” this week, highlighting the cross-confederation aspect.
She also mentioned how the OFC (Oceania Football Confederation) has never hosted a FIFA tournament at the senior level, which would provide a huge boost to football in the region.
Australia has twice hosted FIFA’s U20 men’s tournament and NZ has hosted the U17s men’s world championships.
Who else is in the race?
Originally, there were four bidders.
Previous to this, Australia topped FIFA’s recent technical report audit, scoring 4.1 out of 5, just pipping Japan, which scored 3.9.
Colombia’s bid scored 2.8, but their team have since argued they were victims of “erroneous and discriminatory conclusions” about the domestic security situation and sub-standard health facilities in the country.
Does that mean we’re favourites?
The head of Australia’s bid team, Jane Fernandez, told the ABC that coming out on top in the technical report was a big deal.
“It buoys our confidence, it means we that we know that we are on the right track,” Ms Fernandez said.
“It means that the technical evaluation team that came here in February, what they saw here was really pleasing to them.”
However, getting a good rating from the technical committee does not necessarily translate into votes.
What does fall in Australia-New Zealand’s favour is that FIFA rated it as the most commercially sound of all the bids.
How do they decide?
FIFA’s congress will meet in Zurich on Thursday and vote to decide who will earn hosting rights, with FIFA saying it will make an announcement from 2:00am AEST on Friday morning.
Thirty-five of the 37 congress members will vote, publicly, on who they think should earn the rights.
Why only 35? Colombia and New Zealand both have seats on FIFA’s Congress (unlike Australia), so are not eligible to vote, for obvious reasons.
If we win, where will the games be played?
The bid proposes 13 stadiums in 12 cities across Australia and New Zealand, telling FIFA it would prefer a minimum of 10 to be used — five in each country.
FIFA has the final say, but noted that all the proposed stadiums performed strongly against the required criteria.
Eden Park in Auckland is down to host the opening game, with Stadium Australia in Sydney pencilled in for the final.
The planned redevelopment of Sydney Olympic stadium into a 70,000-seat, rectangular facility was recently put on ice, but FIFA demands the World Cup final is played in a venue with a minimum capacity of 55,000 — and Homebush is the only place that fulfils that criteria, redeveloped or not.
|Sydney Football Stadium||Sydney||42,512|
|Wellington Regional Stadium||Wellington||39,000|
*Redeveloped capacity. Current capacity is 82,500.
The bid team is banking on welcoming 1.5 million fans through the gates across those venues for an average of 24,000 spectators per game, making it the most well-supported women’s World Cup in history.
Will our time zone hurt us?
Not according to FIFA’s evaluation report.
In relation to TV potential, FIFA said although “a relative fall in audiences could be experienced in Europe” its analysis of the time zones meant the games “would be expected to appeal quite strongly to the Asian markets”.
When will the tournament take place?
The dates FIFA has nominated for the tournament to take place are between July 10 to August 10, 2023.
This, being the southern hemisphere winter, would make playing conditions perfect across the two host countries.
There is no clash with either the A-League or W-League, but the grass-roots state-based competitions will be running at the same time in both countries — considered a bonus for the bid team to drive engagement.
When it comes to potential clashes, the elephants in the room are the NRL and AFL competitions in Australia, and provincial rugby union competition in New Zealand.
However, the bid team state they have “secured the support and commitment of other sports to collaborate on the delivery of the tournament” — which was not the case for the ill-fated 2022 bid.
How many teams will there be?
The 2023 Women’s World Cup will feature 32 teams, up from the 24 that competed in France in 2019.
There will be eight groups of four teams in the initial stages, split evenly between Australia and New Zealand.
Qualification will start next year — contingent on an easing of the global coronavirus pandemic.
As with the men’s tournament, the hosts would qualify automatically. In the instance of a joint bid, both teams would get the nod.
The breakdown of how many teams will be able to qualify from each confederation will be determined in due course.
Australia bid for the 2022 World Cup — how did that work out?
Not great, if we’re being honest.
Australia received just one vote during a secret ballot back in 2010, and was knocked out in the first round.
The bid was backed by a $46 million of Federal Government funds, but never had a real chance of being successful, according to then FIFA president Sepp Blatter (now serving a six-year ban from FIFA activities).
The controversy around that bidding process had major impacts on the footballing political landscape, with FBI raids on FIFA’s offices and a slew of arrests.
This time, things should be different given the vote will be public.
When will we find out the result?
Set your alarms for 2:00am AEST for the news out of Switzerland.
Win or lose, we’ll bring you all the reaction right here.