Belgium has become the 10th country to express an interest in hosting an expanded women’s World Cup in 2023, FIFA revealed on Monday.
World football’s governing body announced late last month that, following the success of this year’s 24-team tournament in France, and in order to “foster the growth of women’s football”, the next World Cup in 2023 would be expanded to feature 32 teams.
Nine countries had already declared an interest in hosting the next tournament before the decision was taken to change the format, including Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Japan and South Korea, with the latter potentially making a joint bid with North Korea.
Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil and Colombia had also come forward before Belgium became the 10th interested country.
They each have until September 2 to confirm their participation and must then submit their bids by December 13. The winning bid will be announced in May next year.
The 2019 final was won by the United States although the 24-team tournament featured a few lopsided scores in the group stage, notably the Americans’ 13-0 thrashing of Thailand.
The 2019 women’s World Cup was only the second since it was expanded from 16 teams to 24 in Canada four years ago. The competition started out with 12 teams in 1991.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino has already promised to double the prize fund for the next World Cup having initially raised overall contributions from $15 million to $50 million in time for this year’s competition.
He said the increase was part of a wider plan to invest a further $500 million in the women’s game to achieve a total of $1 billion over the next four years.