The host for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup will be officially chosen Thursday but it may actually be a foregone conclusion. Japan, who is hopeful to host the Summer Olympics in 2021, has withdrawn of consideration to host the soccer tournament. Along with Brazil dropping out a couple weeks ago, this leaves a Australia/New Zealand joint bid and a Colombia bid with Australia/New Zealand heavy favorites.
The Japan FA revealed they were withdrawing their bid in a “very difficult decision.”
“Today, we decided to withdraw our bid to host the 2023 Women’s World Cup,” JFA President Kozo Tashima said, speaking in Japanese. “I could not be more disappointed to have to make this very difficult decision.”
When FIFA evaluated the World Cup bids on a five-point scale, Australia/New Zealand (4.1/5) and Japan (3.8/5) were way ahead of Colombia (2.8/5), who FIFA had concerns about investment in order to actually host the tournament. Because Australia/New Zealand and Japan are in the same region, and thus would potentially split the vote among Asian and Oceanic FIFA Council members, Japan withdrawing leaves the region free to vote for one bid and avoid a potential Colombia upset.
If Australia/New Zealand wins the bid, expect to have the majority of games take place in the middle of the night in the United States. They’re literally halfway around the world so while a Colombia World Cup would be best for US viewers, that’s probably not a consideration for most when it comes to voting.
The 37-member FIFA Council is going to vote on the host Sunday. With New Zealand’s rep not voting for conflict of interest reasons, the combination of Asia and Oceania should give the Australia/New Zealand bid nine votes right off the bat. Colombia is likely to get four votes from South America, after their rep doesn’t vote either. This leaves nine votes in Europe, seven votes in Africa, and five votes in the North America/Central America/Caribbean region. So at 9-4 Australia/New Zealand, the 21 remaining votes will be the difference.
For some reason, this voting process differs from the men’s selection procedure where every FIFA nation gets one vote. This was done because the last time FIFA let it up to a small group of people, there was massive corruption and it led to Russia and Qatar winning the rights to host. It’s much easier to influence a vote when there are only 34 votes instead of all 211 countries voting. So while Australia/New Zealand are known to have the better bid and are the favorites, nothing is official within FIFA until it actually happens.
[AP/Photo: Jason Franson/The Canadian Press]