Football Federation Australia (FFA) and New Zealand Football (NZF) have pledged to “unlock the huge potential” for women’s football in the Asia-Pacific region after edging out Colombia for the hosting rights to the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

The joint bid submitted by FFA and NZF received 22 of the 35 valid votes cast by the FIFA Council members in the first ballot, with the Colombian Football Federation (FCF) having obtained 13 votes.

Following on from last year’s tournament in France, the 2023 Women’s World Cup will be the first edition to feature 32 teams. It will also be the first-ever co-confederation hosted FIFA World Cup – with FFA members of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and NZF part of the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) – the first Women’s World Cup to be held in the Asia-Pacific region, and the first ever to be held in the southern hemisphere.

NZF president and FIFA Council member, Johanna Wood, said: “Australia and New Zealand will not only host a FIFA Women’s World Cup that is the largest tournament ever run, but it will also be a catalyst for ensuring the development of women’s football continues in the Asia-Pacific region and globally.

“Our two nations have worked together to deliver an exceptional, historic bid and I would like to thank FIFA and the whole football family for giving us this opportunity. The FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 will bring us all together in a celebration of our shared loved of football.”

FFA president, Chris Nikou, believes FFA and NZF’s unique geographical location was a key strength for the successful bid. He added: “The FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 in Australia and New Zealand will be ground-breaking in many ways.

“Not only will it be the first ever co-confederation hosted FIFA World Cup and the first ever FIFA Women’s World Cup in the Asia-Pacific region, but we will unlock the huge potential for growth in women’s football in the Asia-Pacific region.”

The bid’s stadium proposal provided FIFA with 13 venue options in 12 potential host cities across Australia and New Zealand. A memorandum of understanding between FFA and NZF creates a partnership that proposes the allocation of match content to a minimum of five stadiums in each of Australia and New Zealand. Stadium Australia in Sydney has been proposed to host the final and opening game.

Australia’s venues:

Stadium Australia, Sydney

Sydney Football Stadium

Melbourne Rectangular Stadium

Brisbane Stadium

Perth Rectangular Stadium

Hindmarsh Stadium, Adelaide

Newcastle Stadium

York Park, Launceston, Tasmania

New Zealand’s venues:

Eden Park, Auckland

Wellington Stadium

Christchurch Stadium

Waikato Stadium, Hamilton

Dunedin Stadium

Australia and New Zealand appeared poised to land hosting rights after Japan dropped its bid on Monday. Japan’s decision came after FIFA released its evaluation report into the bids earlier this month. Australia and New Zealand’s joint bid scored highest at 4.1 out of five, while Japan scored 3.9 and Colombia scored 2.8.

At the time, FFA and NZF noted that the financial commitments by each country’s government towards tournament operating costs were important in securing the “most commercially favourable proposition accolade”. They also highlighted the two countries’ history of working together on major events and inter-governmental coordination on areas including security and transport.

Japan’s decision allowed the AFC to fully position itself behind Australia and New Zealand, while Brazil’s exit shortly before the evaluation report was released positioned Colombia as South America’s sole candidate.

FIFA last week moved to counter criticism from South American officials over the low marking of Colombia’s bid, stating all efforts were made to conduct the process in a “highly objective matter”. The South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) and the Colombian Football Federation (FCF) had earlier wrote to FIFA over what they deemed “erroneous and discriminatory conclusions” outlined in the evaluation report on their bid.

Ahead of yesterday’s (Thursday’s) vote, it was understood that the verdict could be a close-run affair. However, FIFA president Gianni Infantino stated his satisfaction that the result aligned with the evaluation report, hinting at the hugely controversial 2010 process that saw Russia and Qatar awarded hosting rights to the 2018 and 2022 men’s World Cups.

Infantino said: “These reports have to mean something. It was not the case in the old FIFA.”

Image: FFA