WELLINGTON (Reuters) - New Zealand and Australia ramped up their final push to host soccer’s Women’s World Cup in 2023 with the only professional men’s team in New Zealand stating on Thursday they were keen to seek a licence to field a women’s side as well.
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 fellow contenders from Japan and Colombia.
New Zealand side the Wellington Phoenix play in Australia’s A-League and said fielding a women’s team in the equivalent W-League would be a “positive legacy” from potentially hosting the first Women’s World Cup in the southern hemisphere.
“The reality is that FIFA have already stated that they’re very keen for World Cups to leave beyond a positive legacy,” Phoenix general manager David Dome told Reuters on Thursday.
“If our joint bid between Australia and New Zealand is successful and a legacy project is a professional women’s team in the Oceania region ... then that will be massive.”
The Australia-New Zealand bid is a rarity as it crosses FIFA’s confederation boundaries. Australia are in Asia, while their trans-Tasman neighbours New Zealand are in Oceania.
The successful bid will be announced by FIFA on June 25.
Dome said that New Zealand Football (NZF) were actively backing the establishment of a Phoenix W-League side, alongside a “consortium of key stakeholders” in Australia.
Football Federation Australia (FFA) were keen on their A-League sides also fielding W-League teams, he said. Eight of the current nine women’s teams are allied to men’s clubs.
Dome said a ballpark figure to run a professional women’s team was “in the millions” of dollars each year.
“Some clubs are at the high end and some are the low end and the budgets do vary widely,” he said.
“The costs won’t be inconsequential but it’s not like we don’t think we can do it either.”
Editing by Shri Navaratnam and Jacqueline Wong