(CNN)Australia and New Zealand will co-host the 2023 Women’s World Cup after a vote by world football’s governing body.
FIFA announced its decision after a virtual executive council meeting on Thursday, with the successful bid receiving 22 of the 35 valid votes cast in the first ballot. The joint bid had been favorite to win after Japan withdrew from the process earlier this month, leaving Colombia as the only competition. FIFA’s technical evaluation on all three hosts had put the Trans-Tasman bid way ahead of its rival, giving it a score of 4.1 out of five.Japan was awarded 3.9, partly prompting its withdrawal, whilst Colombia scored only 2.8.Read MoreNew Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who has been praised for her handling of the coronavirus pandemic, had publicly backed the bid.Along with her Australian counterpart Scott Morrison, she had penned an open letter to FIFA supporting the joint bid. She also reiterated her commitment in a final attempt to persuade the FIFA council on Wednesday. “We are leaders not only in women’s football, but in the journey to achieve gender equality both on and off the pitch,” she said, prior to the vote.”We have achieved equality in pay for our women’s national teams and this is something we are very proud of. “This tournament will provide an opportunity to grow women’s football across all Asia-Pacific, and beyond, and we will shine a light on the women’s game like never before.”READ: One year on, Marta’s emotional World Cup speech resonates even moreREAD: Germany and US leading the way in crucial period for women’s footballAustralia and New Zealand bid had been the favorite ahead of the vote. The tournament, scheduled to begin on July 10, 2023, will be the first Women’s World Cup held in the southern hemisphere and will be played across eight stadiums in Australia and five in New Zealand. It will also be the first edition to feature 32 teams.The successful bid promised an “unprecedented” level of investment following the breakthrough success of last year’s Women’s World Cup.The tournament in France attracted record breaking audiences and put women’s football center stage. “The FIFA Women’s World Cup is the pinnacle of our sport and truly what dreams are made of,” said Australia captain Sam Kerr, prior to the decision. “The best teams in the world, the best players in the world participating on the biggest stage. “This is about inspiring the next generation of girls by leading the way on the field and off it.”