June 11, 2020 / 2:50 AM / 2 months ago

Soccer-NZ's A-League team to seek licence for women's side

WELLINGTON, June 11 (Reuters) - The Wellington Phoenix will seek a licence to enter a women’s team in Australian soccer’s W-League as New Zealand and Australia ramped up their final push on Thursday to co-host the 2023 Women’s World Cup.

The joint bid for the global showpiece received a major boost on Wednesday when world governing body FIFA rated it as the best to host the tournament, ahead of the two other bids from Japan and Colombia.

The successful bid will be announced by FIFA on June 25.

“I think given a ... once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to host a World Cup on the horizon ... a professional women’s team out of Oceania is more important and achievable than ever before,” Phoenix general manager David Dome said in a statement.

“This is an unprecedented and unique opportunity that may never present itself again.”

The Phoenix are New Zealand’s only professional soccer team and compete in Australia’s A-League.

Dome said fielding a women’s side as well would be a financial challenge but could be a legacy of hosting the World Cup.

It would also help improve pathways for women’s players into professional soccer, with most of New Zealand’s Football Ferns pursuing careers in Europe and North America.

The W-League has nine teams, with eight allied to A-League sides. Its season ended in March shortly before the rest of professional sport shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Shri Navaratnam

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