Australia receives enormous boost in WC hosting bid
AUSTRALIA'S hopes of winning the rights to host the 2023 Women's World Cup with New Zealand have received a significant boost after the joint bid was rated the strongest of three by FIFA's own technical experts.
In what shapes as a test of FIFA's claims to be newly transparent in its award of major tournaments, Australian organisers were told their bid was the strongest in commercial terms, promising to make most money for the game's governing body.
The reports rate the proposed stadiums, hotels, training camps and infrastructure in each of the bidding nations, after FIFA delegates toured Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Hamilton, Wellington and Auckland in February. Australia/New Zealand scored 4.1 out of 5 overall, Japan 3.9 and Colombia 2.8.
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But after Australia's bid to host the 2022 men's World Cup received just one vote in 2010, despite receiving a glowing technical assessment, FIFA observers are watching to see if the Council sets any weight by the reports, or awards the 2023 tournament on the basis of political deals.
Australia's bid scored highly across the board, with negative comments limited to the complexity of a joint bid, and the extensive travel required of players and supporters between venues.
"The Australia/New Zealand 2023 bid provides a variety of very good options in terms of sporting and general infrastructure," the report notes. "It would also appear to present the most commercially favourable proposition."
Japan's bid is ranked as solid and professional, with good commercial prospects, though the report notes the organisers preference to play the tournament in June/July for reasons of climate.
Colombia's bid is ranked medium or high risk in the vast majority of categories, with the report noting how much infrastructure would need to be built to make the tournament possible. "There would be clear risks that the necessary improvements would not be carried out," it adds.
Though Australian hopes rose with the withdrawal of Brazil as a candidate this week, it's expected that many if not all of South America's five members on the Council will swing behind Colombia's bid.
The effect of the corononavirus remains a wildcard factor, with Colombia's total of 33,000 infections and more than 1000 deaths still rising despite a strict period of lockdown.
With FIFA forced to open its coffers and distribute funds to struggling member associations around the world, the Australian bid has pledged to bring in revenue of US$165m.
Under the bid proposals, the opening game would be played at Eden Park and the final at ANZ Stadium. FFA had hoped the latter would be refurbished into a true rectangular stadium by then, but the NSW Government has scrapped those plans.