Fifa president Gianni Infantino announces New Zealand and Australia as the hosts of the 2023 Fifa Women’s World Cup.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has been hailed as the leader most countries would love to have, but that meant nothing when it came to the Women’s World Cup bid, with football powerhouse UEFA apparently refusing to talk to her.
UEFA, which runs European football, block voted for rivals Colombia, snubbing the trans-Tasman Women’s World Cup bid, even though the South American country had an inferior evaluation report.
Australia and New Zealand scored 4.1 out of five on the report with Colombia totalling 2.9.
The joint bid bettered the South Americans in every criteria – stadiums, team and referee facilities, accommodation, International Broadcast Centre (IBC) and competition-related event sites and commercial.
Japan’s withdrawal from the bidding process earlier this week saw the Asian Football Confederation unite and back the Australian-New Zealand submission at the FIFA Council meeting along with the Oceania representatives.
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That was expected to secure a comfortable passage for the joint bid but the waters were muddied somewhat after it emerged the Europeans were surprisingly siding with Colombia.
It led to some nervous moments before the decision was announced early on Friday (NZT) when it was reported by the Guardian that English Football Association chairman Greg Clarke had refused to take a phone call from Ardern.
However, with FIFA chairman Gianni Infantino and the CAF (Africa) and CONCACAF (North America) delegates voting in favour of Australia and New Zealand, a 22-13 winning margin was secured.
Infantino admitted he was surprised to see a block vote in favour of Colombia from football’s most powerful confederation but refused to criticise the decision, calling it “democracy”.
Corks were popped in the early hours after this morning’s Fifa Women’s World Cup announcement.
UEFA said in a statement their vote for Colombia was an attempt to try to increase the growth of the women’s game in South America.
“Even though the Colombian bid was not the one rated highest technically by FIFA, European members of the FIFA Council felt that it represented a strategic opportunity for the development of women’s football in South America thanks to the legacy and increase of attention for the women’s game that the tournament would bring to the continent.
“It was a choice between two countries – Australia and New Zealand – where women’s football is already strongly established, and a continent where it still has to be firmly implanted and has a huge development potential.
“It’s important to add that European members of the FIFA Council agreed to vote together on major issues as a matter of solidarity.”