Belgium joins race to host women’s World Cup in 2023

Belgium’s decision follows the FIFA Council agreeing to increase the number of participating teams for the 2023 event from 24 to 32. (AFP pic)

BENGALURU: The Belgian Football Association has expressed interest in hosting the 2023 edition of the women’s World Cup to join nine other member associations in the bidding process, the sport’s world governing body FIFA said on Monday.

Belgium’s decision follows the FIFA Council agreeing to increase the number of participating teams for the 2023 event from 24 to 32 and the subsequent reopening of the bidding process.

By registering interest, Belgium joins the race alongside Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Japan, New Zealand, South Africa and South Korea which is interested in a joint bid with its North Korean counterpart.

“All ten MAs (member associations) have received the overview of the bidding process (including updated high-level hosting requirements) and will have until Sept 2, 2019 to confirm their participation,” FIFA said in a statement.

“Furthermore, up until the deadline for bid submissions, any member association wishing to join an existing bid will be permitted to do so provided that it also submits a bidding registration to FIFA.”

The tournament’s expansion was pledged by FIFA president Gianni Infantino at the close of this year’s edition in France, which was won for a record-extending fourth time by the United States.

Interest in the women’s game has arguably never been higher, with broadcast records broken all over the globe in the June-July showpiece. Almost 59 million people watched France beat potential 2023 hosts Brazil in the last 16, becoming the most viewed women’s football match of all time.

FIFA will dispatch bidding and hosting documents next month and the deadline for bid submission is Dec 13. The hosts are expected to be appointed in May next year.