Vietnam now stand a bigger chance of playing at the 2023 Women’s World Cup after announcement by FIFA that the organization has greenlighted a proposal to expand the number of tournament slots from 24 to 32.
The world football governing body said in a statement on Wednesday that the FIFA Council had unanimously agreed to a proposal to elevate the number of teams taking part in the Women's World Cup from 24 to 32, beginning with the 2023 tournament.
According to FIFA president Gianni Infantino, the astounding success of the 2019 edition in France, where the United States were crowned world champions for the fourth time, was among the key factors in the decision to expand the tournament to 32 teams.
FIFA has steadily increased the number of participating teams in the Women’s World Cup from 12 in the first edition in 1991 to 24 teams in the last two editions, with the newly-announced expansion putting the women’s tournament on a par with the men’s competition, which has had 32 teams since 1998.
The expansion is considered good news for Vietnam’s national women’s football team, currently standing at No. 35 in the FIFA ranking.
“This is a positive sign not just for Vietnam, but for all countries with developed women’s football,” Le Hoai Anh, general secretary of the Vietnam Football Federation (VFF), told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper.
According to the general secretary, VFF has spent the past five years fostering the growth of women’s football across the country.
“Apart from the Women’s Football Championship, VFF organizes national tournaments for under-16 and under-19 players,” Anh said.
“VFF also tasks its National Youth Training Center with the recruitment and formation of women’s national teams starting from age 13,” he said, adding that the center provides its young students with both football and academic knowledge, in addition to a monthly stipend.
As one of the first fruits reaped from these investments, the Vietnamese U19 women’s team will play in the finals of the upcoming AFC Championship in late October in Thailand.
VFF’s effort is in line with FIFA’s desire for global development of women’s football.
“The expansion reaches far beyond the eight additional participating teams; it means that, from now on, dozens more member associations will organize their women’s football program knowing they have a realistic chance of qualifying,” FIFA president Gianni Infantino said.
The bidding process for the FIFA Women's World Cup 2023 is already underway, with nine bidders expected to submit their bid books by December 2019, including Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Japan, New Zealand, South Africa, and South Korea.