The beautiful bid: Why Australia and New Zealand should win their 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup bid

Judging by the FIFA Bid Evaluation Report on the three remaining bidders to host the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2023, Australia and New Zealand should be awarded the rights to do so. This time the two countries have produced a joint plan for what could prove to be a stunning tournament and a huge boost to the women’s game throughout the Asia-Pacific region. The other two bidders, Japan and Colombia, have contrasting but less convincing offerings and if the decision rested on quality alone, Australia would be home and hosed. But this is FIFA, and even in its post-Blatter incarnation there is no cast-iron guarantee that being the best bid and ‘most commercial proposition’ will win the prize.


Australia and New Zealand have offered more than FIFA requires in terms of stadia, public and government, national and regional, support, infrastructure, legacy plans, and international involvement. Japan can offer a more compact tournament, with superb stadia, but there are question marks about the postponement of the Olympic Games and the stability of the environment, which from a FIFA point of view, increases the risks involved. Colombia has a long and successful football history in South America, but is struggling to finance a competitive bid and trails the other two in FIFA’s assessment. The commercial risk is high and this is a no-no from FIFA’s point of view.


Having learned many hard lessons from the debacle which was the bid to hold the men’s World Cup in 2022, Football Federation Australia and New Zealand Football have done the vast majority of the hard work, rather than farming it out to international so-called experts. FIFA admits that a joint bid can be ‘a more complex undertaking, since it requires the management of cross-border components for the delivery of the event’. But this is a great opportunity for a sporting contribution to a reorientation of Australia – New Zealand commercial and economic relationships in the new world post COVID-19 and the rise of China as an influence in the region.


A successful outcome will face some domestic issues in Australia. The proposed reconstruction of Stadium Australia, one of the features of the bid, does not appear to be going ahead after all. Of course, it hosted the final of the soccer tournament at the Olympic Games in 2000, and the World Cup qualifier against Uruguay in 2005, so in terms of capacity it can cope with the numbers involved. But it will be a 23-year-old stadium by 2023, so some upgrading will be necessary. Even the new Sydney Football Stadium is going to have to be finished on time, and close to budget, if it is to be the venue for matches. Hindmarsh Stadium in Adelaide is going to need an increase in capacity to host later round matches. Some of the New Zealand stadia also require upgrading.


From a player’s point of view, and that of fans wishing to follow the representatives of their country, the distances between venues within Australia and across the ditch is going to be a real obstacle. The planners are aware of this and have some good ideas about reducing the number of changes of locations involved.


FIFA’s technical people were impressed with the way the tournament is planned to leave a powerful legacy on the two countries and the Asia-Pacific region. Lessons learned from the successful hosting of the Asian Cup of Nations in 2015 are being built on and if there is the same coming together of multicultural Australia that occurred then, this will be a huge boost to our soft diplomacy at a time when it is going to be needed.


Four specific objectives are outlined in the bid. They include increasing the number of women and girls playing football, improving pathway opportunities, building capacity and raising investment in facilities. These are all aimed at both domestic and regional benefits, which if achieved could be of value far beyond 2023.


Needless to say the leaders of the game in both countries have welcomed the FIFA Bid Evaluation Report but there will be some nerves in Sydney and Auckland before the decision is made on 25 June.



Our writers are independent contributors. The opinions expressed in their articles are their own. They are not the views, nor do they reflect the views, of Malarkey Publications.


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  1. Kevin Densley says

    Such a clear, well-structured and argued piece, Roy! Sounds excellent to me!

  2. Thanks Kevin. I’m normally against sports mega-events in part because the pre-event claims are seldom realised, so in this case it might be me becoming a one-eyed local booster. But what the hell. This looks like it could be a worthwhile occasion, if it attracts lots of visitors, world attention and generates some resources to finance support for our Pacific and Asian neighbours. We will have to make sure FFA and FNZ step up to the mark and their governments, national and local carry out their commitments.

    And since John is on a grammatical correction mission, I need to remove the superfluous ‘its’ in the second line of the third paragraph in the article.

    We haven’t won the bid yet.

  3. Maggie Koumi says

    Excellent piece and spot on Roy. We can only hope the FIFA gremlins do not way lay what is in my opinion the best bid!

  4. Kevin Densley says

    A successful bid, Roy! Very pleasing news!

  5. World cups don’t come around too often.
    This should be fun.

  6. Really good news, gentlemen. Now the hard work begins in making sure the event lives up to our expectations. I hope it might lead to more co-operation between the codes over a whole range of issues, because all will benefit in the end at the price of some disruption of their normal schedules. The potential is limitless, but first we have to deal with the current impact on the women’s game here and overseas.

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