The biggest stage for women’s football is set to expand. But the statement from FIFA does not say anything about where the extra spaces will go.
The new tournament will look to expand to 32 to teams, with eight groups of four teams in each. That means the women’s edition will have the same amount of teams as the men’s do now.
The expanded World Cup will come into effect for the next edition, scheduled for 2023.
“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. I am glad to see this proposal becoming a reality,” said FIFA President Gianni Infantino in a press release.
“The expansion reaches far beyond the eight additional participating teams; it means that, from now on, dozens more member associations will organise their women’s football programme knowing they have a realistic chance of qualifying. The FIFA Women’s World Cup is the most powerful trigger for the professionalisation of the women’s game, but it comes but once every four years and is only the top of a much greater pyramid.”
Potential women’s Club World Cup
FIFA has also outlined four other points they would like to achieve for the women’s game.
- The creation of a FIFA Club World Cup for women: starting as soon as possible
- The creation of a Women’s World League: a proposal put forward already in 2017, to be played in tournaments all over the world
- To double the prize money for the next FIFA Women’s World Cup.
- To double the investment committed to women’s football over the next four-year cycle, from USD 500m to USD 1 billion.
Especially the premise of a women’s Club World Cup is enticing as it would mean the OFC would need to start up a women’s Champions League, which would, in turn, see women in Oceania play more matches.
What will the World Cup expansion mean for Oceania?
There is no confirmed news on this as of yet. But the most optimistic among us could hope for one extra guaranteed spot, while the most pessimistic would see the eight new spots be divided between the other continents.
However, what is probably more likely is that any extra spot given to Oceania would only be a half spot, so that the second team in OFC would have to go through a qualifying playoff, against a team from another confederation. Similar to what the best men’s team in the region has to do to qualify for a men’s World Cup today.
So could we finally see the likes of PNG, Fiji, New Caledonia, or even up-and-coming Samoa, take the world stage? Only the future, and FIFA, know the answer.