FIFA has decided to expand the Women’s World Cup to 32 teams, following the success of this year’s tournament held in France.
The new format will be brought in for the next Women’s World Cup in 2023, with a host country still to be decided.
The United States won this year’s World Cup, beating the Netherlands 2-0 in the final. England’s Lionesses, led by Phil Neville, finished fourth after being beaten by the Americans in the semi-finals.
“The astounding success of this year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup in France made it very clear that this is the time to keep the momentum going and take concrete steps to foster the growth of women’s football,” said FIFA’s president Gianni Infantino.
“From now on, dozens more member associations will organise their women’s football programme knowing they have a realistic chance of qualifying.
“The FIFA Women’s World Cup is the most powerful trigger for the professionalisation of the women’s game, but it…is only the top of a much greater pyramid.”
2019 marked the most successful Women’s World Cup ever, with 11.7 million Britons watching England lose to Sweden in the third-place playoff and a peak of almost five million watching the final.
Meanwhile in the US, 15 million viewers tuned in to watch the defending champions beat the Netherlands.
Some networks reported that more people had watched the women’s final than the men’s 2018 World Cup final.
Bidding is already well underway to find a host for the 2023 Women’s World Cup, with Japan, Australia and a potential joint venture from North and South Korea on the shortlist