The women's team of Việt Nam is hoping for a World Cup place after the number of team increased to 32. — Photo football-tribe.com
HÀ NỘI — FIFA’s decision to expand the number of teams at the 2023 World Cup opens door for Việt Nam at the world’s biggest football tournament for women.
The world governing body yesterday announced on their website: “FIFA Council unanimously approves expanded 32-team field for the FIFA Women’s World Cup”.
The decision will come into effect in 2023, the number of participants is increased from 24 to 32, meaning that eight more teams will be added to the competition.
The next version tournament will involve eight groups of four teams.
“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,” said FIFA President Gianni Infantino on fifa.com.
“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.
"In the meantime, we all have a duty to do the groundwork and strengthen women’s football development infrastructure across all confederations."
Following the current allocation with 24 teams, Asia has five places. In the recent France World Cup, Asian representatives were Australia, Japan, China, South Korea and Thailand. The first four are in the continental top five while Thailand No 7.
FIFA has not yet allocated number of participants for each region but the Asian Football Confederation would have at least one more slot.
It will give Việt Nam a big chance to win their World Cup berth for the first time in history.
“With our current ranking and more slots for Asia, it is chance for us obviously,” said Lê Hoài Anh, general secretary of the Việt Nam Football Federation.
“Recently, VFF has strongly supported the women’s football, especially for the youth teams, so that we would have the best preparation for the future targets (including World Cup participation),” he said.
Việt Nam came close to qualifying for the 2015 competition but lost play-off match to Thailand 1-2.
Currently, the bidding process for the 2023 event is underway with nine countries initially expected to submit bids by 4 October 2019.
Twelve teams participated in the inaugural Women's World Cup in 1991, before the number of teams rose to 16 in 1999 and 24 in 2015.
Infantino has already promised to double the prize fund for the next Women's 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.
"We have more than $2.75 billion of reserves, we don't need all this money in the Swiss banks, they have enough money," said the 49-year-old.
"We need to invest this in order to make the whole movement around the world grow." — VNS/AFP