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2023 FIFA Women's World Cup to Expand to 32 Teams After Council Approval

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistJuly 31, 2019

USA women's soccer player Lindsey Horan(L)Megan Rapinoe (C), Alexandra Long(R) and other team members celebrate with the trophy in front of the City Hall after the ticker tape parade for the women's World Cup champions on July 10, 2019 in New York. - Tens of thousands of fans are poised to pack the streets of New York on Wednesday to salute the World Cup-winning US women's team in a ticker-tape parade. Four years after roaring fans lined the route of Lower Manhattan's fabled
JOHANNES EISELE/Getty Images

FIFA has confirmed the Women's World Cup will be expanded from 24 to 32 teams. 

World football's governing body announced on Wednesday that the next edition of the tournament in 2023—which is yet to name a host—will feature 32 nations, and FIFA president Gianni Infantino said:

"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 – the first of several − becoming a reality.

"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 United States beat the Netherlands 2-0 in Paris on July 7 to successfully defend a World Cup title for the first time. 

The men's World Cup first adopted a 32-team format in 1998 and has played with that number of teams for the past six tournaments.

There is a concern for some that football's governing powers will harm the level of competition by increasing the number of teams able to participate in the Women's World Cup.

However, Grant Wahl of Sports Illustrated argued the long-term benefits make the move worthwhile:

Grant Wahl @GrantWahl

Official: FIFA is expanding next women's World Cup from 24 to 32 teams. Good move. Might get occasional blowouts, but this will incentivize new countries to invest in the women's game. https://t.co/4W44J26iSX

As a result of the decision, the bid process has been revised, and it's expected FIFA will appoint the 2023 tournament host in May 2020.

Sportswriter Jeff Kassouf criticised the decision to expand the amount of competitors while giving the potential 2023 host less time to prepare for those duties:

Jeff Kassouf @JeffKassouf

Still wild that we not only don't yet know the 2023 Women's World Cup host, but FIFA wants to re-open the bidding and change the tournament to a 32-team field. https://t.co/PKnucowVKR Whichever country gets this will have three years to organize that potentially larger field.

The Women's World Cup featured only 16 teams as recently as the 2011 edition, having increased that number to 24 since the 2015 tournament.

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