The FIFA Council, soccer's world governing body, has unanimously approved the expansion of the number of teams participating in the FIFA Women’s World Cup from 24 to 32, citing the “astounding success” of France 2019.
The decision to expand, which the FIFA Council made remotely, comes ahead of its scheduled meeting in Shanghai later this year. Bidders for the 2023 tournament were originally expected to submit their bid books by 4 October 2019.
“The astounding success of this year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup in France made it very clear that this is the time to keep the momentum going and take concrete steps to foster the growth of women’s football,” said FIFA President Gianni Infantino in a statement. “I am glad to see this proposal – the first of several – becoming a reality.”
The new 32-team format will take effect before the next FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2023 and require updates in hosting requirements before then.
With the new timeline in place, bidding member associations will be asked to reconfirm their interest in bidding. Other eligible member associations may express their interest in bidding during this time period, FIFA said.
Infantino said the expansion had implications beyond the additional participating teams.
“[D]ozens more member associations will organize their women’s football program knowing they have a realistic chance of qualifying,” Infantino said. “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 U.S. women's national team won the Women's World Cup in France this summer after beating 2-0 against the Netherlands. They are the second team to win back-to-back trophies.