The competition to host the tournament was originally very competitive, with additional bids from Japan, Brazil, South Africa, Colombia, and an odd proposal for a joint tournament shared between North and South Korea. However, by the time of the vote, the bids had been reduced to between Colombia and Australia/New Zealand. None of these three bidding nations has hosted a Women’s World Cup in the past. Indeed, the tournament has never been held in either South America, Oceania, or, even the Southern Hemisphere before. Neither have any of these nations previously held the Men’s World Cup (though Colombia was originally slated to host in 1986 but was forced to abandon the bid and FIFA moved the tournament to Mexico). This will be the first women’s tournament co-hosted by two nations, and the first tournament for either men or women’s football to be co-hosted by nations from two different federations (Australia is in the Asian Football Confederation, while New Zealand is in the Oceania Football Confederation).
The 2023 tournament will be the first to be expanded to 32 teams. The 2019 tournament, hosted in France, featured 24 teams. The 32 team format is the same as the current men’s team format: 8 groups of 4 with two teams from each group advancing to a series of single elimination rounds through set brackets.
The tournament will be held in 7 cities in Australia and 5 in New Zealand, with 13 stadiums total. In Australia, the cities of Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Brisbane, New Castle, and Launceston will each host a stadium, while Sydney will have two stadiums. While these stadiums are spread across the country, 3 of these cities are in the province of New South Wales. In New Zealand, matches will be hosted in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, Christchurch, and Dunedin, also spread across the country. The final is set to be hosted in Stadium Australia in Sydney. It can be reasonably expected that matches will be organized so that both Australia and New Zealand play mostly in their respective home nations.
The tournament brings several challenges, including shortened daylight hours (it’s winter in July in the Southern Hemisphere), travel distances, and the time zone difference. Australia and New Zealand are both experienced World Cup teams, with the nations going to 7 and 5 tournaments, respectively. While New Zealand haven’t managed to get out of their group, Australia has had runs to the quarterfinals. Australia in particular is considered a decently strong team, at times included as a dark-horse to win tournaments, with a number of good players. In particular, the Matildas have Sam Kerr, widely considered one of the best strikers in the world.
I expect this to be an interesting World Cup. The United States are the reigning world champions after winning the last two consecutive tournaments, though the team still has to go through qualification. The schedule for Qualification has yet to be announced.