Australia and New Zealand had both previously submitted an expression of interest as separate bidders, with a record nine countries registering at the initial stage earlier this year. That number was increased to ten when FIFA re-opened the process in August.
However, FIFA’s unanimous decision in July to expand the 2023 tournament has seen Australia begin discussions with New Zealand to potentially club together as a joint bidder instead.
The ongoing talks have been confirmed by FFA chairman Chris Nikou this week.
“We’re still in dialogue with New Zealand and a decision will be made shortly as the bid book is due on December 13. We’ve had really constructive dialogue with Football New Zealand and we have a great relationship,” Nikou is quoted as saying by The Guardian.
“A dual bid makes sense – the competition going from 24 countries to 32 means we need to go from six to eight venues to eight to 10. It’s certainly a possibility.”
Belgium and Bolivia have dropped out of the bidding process so far, but the next deadline for the rest, as alluded to by Nikou, comes on 13 December when remaining bidders must submit their completed bidding registration. Inspection visits of each potential host will then be carried out in January and February, with FIFA set to name the successful bidder in May.
Aside from Australia and New Zealand, who will be part of it either jointly or separately, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Japan and South Africa are all in the mix. There is also a live bid from South Korea that is expected to include a joint application with North Korea.
The Women’s World Cup has never previously been held in South America, Africa or Oceania, meaning there is a strong chance of the 2023 tournament heading somewhere completely new.