Who could have expected…
Japan has withdrawn their bid to host the Women’s World Cup 2023, leaving the poll to just two bids still in their way to hold the women’s event; with the joint Australia-New Zealand bid being the clear favourite against Colombia. Why did the Oriental country choose to pull out of this race? But more importantly, does this decision really affect in the final verdict?
The FIFA Council will vote on the hosts for 2023 this Friday. It’s true that FIFA’s bid inspectors rated the joint applicants (Australia & New Zealand) 4.1 out of five in their inspection report, but, the Nippon country was not far behind, as they got a 3.9 score, while the third, Colombia, only scored 2.8.
Looking back, Japan first declared its ambition to host a Women’s World Cup in 2007 and has been one of the world’s leading nations in supporting and developing the women’s game. It is the only nation to have won the Women’s World Cup at every age level. So, pulling out the 2023 bid was a decision not taken lightly.
The truth is that Tashima Kohzo, president of Japan Football Association, and chairperson of the Japan Bid Committee, said that their decision of leaving this bid was taken after believing that Japan wouldn’t win against the Tasman’s submission. However, Kozho hinted on his statement that the association would work on supporting the Nippon country to create a better and stronger bid in the future.
“We have felt in our own hearts the impact the Women’s World Cup can have on individuals and society as a whole. As a result of JFA’s ceaseless efforts to empower people through our social activities, we also know the power of football to influence society,” said Kohzo, “We can now show the solidarity of Asian Football Family, to lead to a successful bid. Japan will cooperate with FIFA and the host nation(s) to ensure women’s football in the world continues to advance, expand and ascend to a higher level.”
Japan is still hosting the Olympic women’s tournament, until the recent success of the WWC the premium tournament for women. Japan has also just announced the launch of a women’s professional league and has long participated in supplying coaches to Asian countries and grassroots events to develop the women’s game. So, this sudden decision doesn’t imply that the Japanese Football Association doesn’t support women’s football anymore.
Yet, it’s very probable that the FIFA Council vote for the joint bid anyway on Friday; so, if we think about it, nothing would have really changed. It just feels like Japan just wants to maintain their status intact and that’s why they decided to retreat in time.
Meanwhile, Asian Football Confederation president, Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, declared his support for the Australia-New Zealand bid, saying:
“Not only is this a historic cross-Confederation bid, with our close friends and neighbours from Oceania, but most importantly, this is the most technically impressive of the bids that the Council must choose from on June 25 and we must be guided by the experts.
“The FIFA Evaluation report could not have been clearer on the outstanding sporting infrastructure that will allow the players to perform at their optimum level and are in keeping with the ever-growing profile of this world-class competition.”
On the other side, with Japan gone, Colombia continues in a bad spot. Still, Colombian FA chief Ramon Jesurun, and Conmebol President Alejandro Dominguez hope that the South American country will win. They also recently wrote jointly to FIFA, complaining of “erroneous and discriminatory conclusions” in rating the South American country’s bid to host the tournament. In fact, South America has never hosted the women’s tournament.
“In the document, FIFA’s administration draws some erroneous and discriminatory conclusions on three aspects of vital importance for the score of our candidacy,” read the letter which also took exception to references to terrorism.
“Colombia today lives in a time of stability and social peace, fruits of the efforts and maturity of its people.”
But, in the end, it’s very clear that even if Japan stayed, or it never was fighting to host the World Cup, the Tasman bid would have won anyways, as if we compare it to the Colombian one, the Australian-New Zealand one is the clear winner.
The unique nature of the cross-Confederation bid, the fact that this is the first time the Southern Hemisphere will have hosted the tournament and the benefits for the development of the women’s game in Asia-Pacific that this united bid would unlock, then the proposition looks to be the only available choice,” concluded Salman.