The South African Football Association (Safa) has taken the first step towards hosting the 2023 Women’s World Cup.
On Tuesday, Fifa announced that all its member nations have been informed that the bidding process has begun. It gave a deadline of March 15 for associations to submit a “completed expression of interest”.
Safa has previously made no secret of its desire to bring the competition to South Africa and on Thursday chief executive Russell Paul confirmed to the Mail & Guardian that it has informed the governing body of its interest.
Which is only step one, however.
Safa will now have to wait for Fifa to present it with more information – set to happen on March 18 – before it can take it to government to discuss the possibility of submitting a bid.
“Once we get those requirements then we can have a sit-down with government,” Paul says.
“We have written to government, we have written to Sascoc [Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee], explaining this whole process to them. So once we have that documentation in our hands on what it takes to host this World Cup, we’ll sit down with government and the relevant structures to check the feasibility.”
Women’s football has surged in popularity in South Africa over the last year thanks in part to the success of Banyana Banyana. The team captured the nation’s attention and hearts by winning the Cosafa cup before making it to the final of the Africa Women’s Cup of Nations. That painful loss to Nigeria at the last hurdle also earned them a spot at this year’s World Cup in France in June.
“We all know what it did for the male side of the game,” Paul says. “The hype and the interest was great in the country. We want to see if we can replicate and even improve on that.”
President Danny Jordaan has previously stated that the Safa Congress mandated that the association should put in its best efforts into bringing the showpiece to the country.
“In 1994 the USA hosted the men’s World Cup and they hosted the women’s World Cup in 1999‚” Jordaan said according to TimesLives in December.
“In 2006 Germany hosted the men’s World Cup and in 2011 they hosted the women’s World Cup. South Africa hosted the 2010 edition and it’s now our time.”
The full schedule laid out by Fifa for the bidding process is:
- 15 March 2019: Deadline to submit the completed expression of interest form to Fifa
- 18 March 2019: Fifa to dispatch the bidding registration and overview documents
- 16 April 2019: Deadline to submit the completed bidding registration to Fifa
- 18 April 2019: Fifa to dispatch hosting documents to the member associations that have returned the bidding registration by the above deadline
- 4 October 2019: Submission of the bid book, the signed hosting agreement and all other hosting documents to Fifa
- March 2020: Expected appointment date of the host(s) by the Fifa Council