Women's Football

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The football landscape

Women's Football ­

5 min. reading time

On to new horizons

After a year of explosive growth and exposure for the women’s game with France 2019, it was important for FIFA to keep the momentum.

The organisation made support for women’s football a central condition of the FIFA COVID-19 Relief Plan, with USD 500,000 of funding in the third stage dedicated specifically to women’s football initiatives.

As well as financial assistance, FIFA provided a wealth of practical and moral support to women’s football around the world in 2020.

The FIFA Women’s World Cup™ heads down under

Playing for the Matildas in Australia will be the highlight of my career and an opportunity to inspire girls, both in Australia and New Zealand, and all over the world to play football.
Sam Kerr
Australia captain

The FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023™ will be staged in Australia and New Zealand, the first edition to be played in the southern hemisphere.

In a vote taken by the FIFA Council in June, the joint bid submitted by Football Federation Australia and New Zealand Football prevailed, receiving 22 of the 35 votes cast by the Council members, with the Colombian Football Association having obtained 13 votes. The full voting results were published on FIFA.com.

Following on from the astounding success of the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019™ in France and the subsequent unanimous decision by the FIFA Council, the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 will be the first edition to feature 32 teams and it will also be the first to be hosted by Australia and New Zealand and across two confederations (AFC and OFC).

The biggest FIFA Women’s World Cup™ ever

This will be a chance of a lifetime to connect with fans. We barely play any home games – because we are so far away from everywhere else – so this is so epic.
Ali Riley
New Zealand captain

Following the amazing success of the 2019 edition, the decision was taken to expand the FIFA Women’s World Cup™ from 24 to 32 teams. FIFA worked closely with the confederations to formulate the allocation of slots for the 2023 edition, confirmed by the Bureau of the FIFA Council.

The two host countries, Australia and New Zealand, qualify automatically and their slots have been taken directly from the quotas allocated to their respective confederations: the AFC and the OFC.

The play-off tournament will be used as a test event in Australia and New Zealand for the FIFA Women’s World Cup.

The three remaining slots will be decided through a ten-team play-off tournament with the following play-off slot allocation:

Women’s Development Programme ­

Eight new initiatives related to the Women’s Development Programme were launched in 2020, including access to tailored expertise in conjunction with the publication of the new FIFA Women’s Football Administrator Handbook. Workshops with over 80 MAs have taken place to support women’s football experts to implement many of these projects, and women’s football programmes on technical leadership are also being delivered to MA technical directors.

Case study: Tongan Football Association ­

In March 2020, the Tongan Football Association (TFA) inaugurated a new FIFA Forward-funded technical centre on the Vava'u archipelago, which is the centrepiece of the country’s plan to grow and develop the game outside of the capital of Nuku’alofa.

Thanks to a pilot project launched under FIFA’s Women’s Development Programme, the focus turned to supporting women’s football on six islands. Four of the largest islands ('Eua, Tongatapu, Vava'u and Ha'apai) fully participated in the programme, while two more remote ones (Niuafo'ou and Niuatoputapu) took part in the MA Coach Education Certificate in Vava'u and received training equipment, as well as a customised training programme.

"The start of the programme in 'Eua, Vava'u and Tongatapu was tremendous. We’re doing everything possible in terms of working with the clubs and football associations for a successful outcome," said Adelaide Tuivailala, Head of Women's Football at the TFA.

In the absence of football activity due to the pandemic, the TFA work with FIFA’s Women’s Football Division between April and June to develop a tailored women’s football strategy, before completing the tournament between the participating islands at the end of the year.

Women’s Football Administrator Handbook

A key part of FIFA’s Vision 2020-2023 is to develop the women’s game and enhance its professionalisation. Another milestone on this journey is the publication of the first-ever Women’s Football Administrator Handbook.

The handbook offers a better understanding of how strategies, practices and procedures can reinforce the objectives of growing women’s football, and aims to foster gender equality. It proposes good practices learned from experience and directs the reader towards further and specific support.

FIFA Chief Women’s Football Officer Sarai Bareman said, “This handbook offers guidance and inspiration to enhance the support for women’s football, both on and off the pitch, and to develop the women’s game further.”

France 2019 Club Solidarity Fund

A year after the USA won their fourth FIFA Women’s World Cup™, FIFA published the final report on the solidarity funding distributed to clubs from the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019™.

Following the distribution of FIFA funding via member associations (MAs), 822 professional and grassroots clubs from 39 MAs received a total of USD 8.46 million of solidarity funding, to be used to support dedicated youth football and development programmes for women and girls.

France 2019 was the first FIFA Women’s World Cup where professional and grassroots clubs benefitted from receiving solidarity funding, which was introduced by FIFA to directly support and reward clubs in the development of players who play at the tournament.

Based on the principle of rewarding clubs for providing players with a professional football pathway, 50 per cent of the funding was distributed to clubs that released players for the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019™; the remaining 50 per cent was distributed to eligible clubs, including grassroots and amateur teams, that trained players between the ages of 12 and 22.