Fifa will seek to expand the Women's World Cup from 24 to 32 teams and double the prize money while maintaining a significant financial gulf with funding for the men's tournament.

Fifa president Gianni Infantino will need quick approval from ruling bodies to enlarge the Women's World Cup, with bidding already under way for 2023. New Zealand is among those hoping to host that tournament. The process would have to be reopened if countries have to find stadiums to accommodate more teams and additional games.

"We will need to act more quickly if we want to have 32 teams already in 2023," Infantino said. "We will discuss it as a matter of urgency and see if we can already decide to increase for 2023, in which case we should re-open the bidding process and allow everyone to have a chance to organise or maybe co-host for some of those who have been bidding already for a 24-team World Cup."

The 37-member Fifa Council had been due to vote on the 2023 Women's World Cup host in March 2020, with the nine countries that had expressed interest in bidding required to submit formal bid plans by October 4.


In addition to New Zealand, the other bidders are recent men's World Cup hosts Brazil and South Africa, plus Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Colombia, Japan and South Korea, who could bid with North Korea.

"Nothing is impossible, and based on the success of this World Cup, we have to believe bigger and to do what we should have done already probably some time ago," Infantino said. "But now we have the evidence to do it for women's football."

Infantino previously prioritised enlarging the men's World Cup, with a jump from 32 to 48 teams when the United States co-hosts with Canada and Mexico in 2026. A bid to fast-track expansion for the 2022 tournament in Qatar collapsed in May due to logistical and political barriers.

That event will see teams splitting prize money of US$440 million, and US$209 million will be made available to clubs releasing players.

But women's teams earn significantly less for competing at their showpiece. Even doubling the prize money, team preparation funding and cash for clubs releasing players — as Infantino disclosed on Friday — will lift the figure to only $100 million.

Infantino has, however, pledged to introduce two new women's competitions: a Club World Cup and league for nations between World Cups.

Infantino said Fifa would double investment in women's football to US$1 billion but later clarified much of the funding would be reserved for national federations to request for specific projects that would require approval from the governing body.

Fifa's cash reserves at the end of 2018 stood at US$2.74 billion.


"We don't need all that money in Swiss banks," Infantino said.

- AP