Fifa president aims to expand Women’s World Cup to 32 teams

World Cup final: Netherlands relish underdogs status before final clash with the USA

 Netherlands’ Danielle van de Donk, right, in action with Sweden’s Hanna Glas during the semi-final clash in Lyon. “We are European champions, not just anyone.” Photograph: Benoit Tessier/Reuters

Netherlands’ Danielle van de Donk, right, in action with Sweden’s Hanna Glas during the semi-final clash in Lyon. “We are European champions, not just anyone.” Photograph: Benoit Tessier/Reuters

 

Fifa president Gianni Infantino wants to expand the women’s World Cup to 32 teams from 24 for the next edition in 2023, he said on Friday.

Ahead of the women’s World Cup final between holders the United States and the Netherlands, Infantino said he would take his proposals to the Fifa council and member associations for approval.

“I want to expand the tournament to 32 teams,” said the Swiss-Italian.

“We will have to act quickly to decide if we are to increase it for 2023, if we do we should reopen the bidding process to allow everyone to have a chance or maybe co-host. Nothing is impossible.”

Infantino hailed the tournament in France as “the best women’s World Cup ever” and said it was an opportunity to build on the game worldwide.

“I would like to see a club world cup for women starting as soon as possible next year or the year after,” Infantino added.

“We need a club world cup which can be played even every year to expose clubs from all other the world to make clubs invest even more in women’s football to really shine in a world stage which is a real and true club world cup.

Fifa will increase its investment in women’s soccer worldwide to $1 billion over the next four-year cycle.

Meanwhile,Netherlands are relishing their underdog status ahead of the final against the United States, midfielder Danielle van de Donk has said. The Dutch will take on the three-time champions in Sunday’ s title clash at Lyon and Van de Donk said her team will not be overawed by their more celebrated opponents.

“I love being underdogs,” said Van de Donk. “It’s the best role you can be in. I like it. I don’t know the English word but I don’t think they [the US] think we’re that good. Underestimate? Yes, that’s it. That is going to be an advantage for us.”

Reigning European champions Netherlands struggled to qualify for the World Cup, having progressed through playoffs, but are now playing their second consecutive major final.

Sarina Wiegman’s side have shown they can find the extra gear when needed and have won each of their six matches in the tournament, scoring 11 goals and conceding just three in the process.

“We are European champions, not just anyone,” Van de Donk added. “I’m very proud of the team, I’m very proud of the Netherlands and I think we came this far as well because we have such amazing support all the time.”

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