According to the Associated Press on Thursday, Australia and New Zealand will co-host the 2023 Women’s World Cup of Soccer. The host cities in Australia will be Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Newcastle, Perth, Launceston, and Adelaide. The host cities in New Zealand will be Auckland, Christchurch, Hamilton, Dunedin, and Wellington.
The 2023 Women’s World Cup will now be a 32-team tournament for the first time. At the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France, there were 24 teams.
One might question why the Women’s World Cup is expanding to 32 teams. At the 2019 Women’s World Cup, the United States went undefeated, and in the process, beat the opposition 26-3. All the games were competitive, except one outlier, a 13-0 triumph over Thailand on June 11.
There is no doubt that the 2019 Women’s World Cup was very competitive with 22 solid teams. However, there were two teams that seemed to be outclassed. In addition to Thailand who was outscored 20-1, Jamaica was outscored 12-1.
This is nothing against Thailand or Jamaica, because they deserved to be at the 2019 Women’s World Cup due to their qualification success. However FIFA needs to look at ‘a less is better’ approach for not only the Women’s World Cup, but the Men’s World Cup as well. The same complaints can be made for the Men’s World Cup, which will expand from 32 to 48 teams when the tournament comes to North America in 2026.
By having fewer teams in an event like the World Cup, you have more important games, and reduce the risk of blowouts among mismatched teams. The bottom line is when the United States hammered Thailand in 2019 by 13 goals, it was not good for women’s soccer as a whole. The Americans got criticized internationally by running up the score. However, one cannot completely blame the American women either, because goals for and against mattered in the tournament.
Yes, there is a genuine argument by bringing eight more teams into the Women’s World Cup, that this is the best way to grow women’s soccer globally. However, tournaments that generally have the highest percentage of competitive games receive the highest praise. At this time, it may not be the best time for FIFA to make the switch.