Safa House in Johannesburg. Picture: SOWETAN
Safa House in Johannesburg. Picture: SOWETAN

Fifa has opened the bidding for the 2023 women’s World Cup‚ which means the SA Football Association (Safa) now has to put words into action.

Safa boss Danny Jordaan two months ago said the country wanted to host the tournament in the wake of Banyana Banyana’s qualification for the 2019 finals in France.

“In 1994 the US hosted the men’s World Cup and they hosted the women’s World Cup in 1999‚” said Jordaan then. “In 2006 Germany hosted the men’s World Cup and in 2011 they hosted the women’s World Cup. SA hosted the 2010 edition and it’s now our time.”

Fifa began the process on Tuesday with a letter to all member associations inviting bids for the tournament. SA will have less than a month to submit an expression of interest at the start of a bidding process that will take a year before the hosting decision is made in March 2020.

That will leave the appointed host just three years to organise the tournament‚ as opposed to the minimum seven years that the hosts of the men’s World Cup get.

It also means Fifa is therefore going to choose a country with a significant footballing infrastructure‚ giving SA a good chance.

Hosting the tournament in Africa would also significantly boost Fifa’s efforts to double the number of female players to 60-million by 2026. What will count against SA is the perception that there will not be enough spectators.

Safa must send its completed expression of interest form to Fifa by March 15. After that Fifa will dispatch the bidding registration and overview documents and  potential hosts have until April 16 to complete and return to it.

The next step is the submission of a bid book‚ the signed hosting agreement and all other hosting documents to Fifa by October 4. The Fifa council will announce the host country in March 2020.

There has also been an expression of interest from the US to host the tournament‚ which represents a formidable opponent in the bidding race.

“Interest in women’s football continues to grow and following the 2019 women’s World Cup in France‚ it is certain to reach an all-time high‚” said Fifa chief women’s football officer Sarai Bareman.

“Fifa believes that women’s football still has even more potential for growth and we look forward to receiving hosting submissions for the women’s World Cup 2023‚ to see how potential host countries will aim to promote the ultimate competition in women’s football‚ and create a sustainable legacy that will inspire upcoming generations of young girls and women to get involved in the game,” Bareman said.