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SOCCER | Japan Withdraws 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup Bid Three Days Before Announcement




The Japan Football Association on Monday pulled out of the running for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, three days before the scheduled announcement.


That leaves Colombia and a joint Australia-New Zealand bid as the other finalists. The FIFA Council is set to vote and reveal the winner during an online news conference on Thursday. The Oceania bid is the favorite.


“Today, we decided to withdraw our bid to host the 2023 Women’s World Cup,” JFA President Kozo Tashima said. “I could not be more disappointed to have to make this very difficult decision."


Japan was considered the second favorite behind the Australia-New Zealand bid. 


The delayed Tokyo Olympics until 2021 caused JFA officials to believe that being awarded the chance to stage a second major global competition within a two-year period wasn't going to happen.


In FIFA's 228-page evaluation report released two weeks ago, the Trans-Tasman bid received 4.1 points out of a possible perfect score of five. Japan got 3.9 points and Colombia 2.8. According to the report, the Australia-New Zealand bid will cost an estimated $107.5 million USD, more than double the proposed plans from both Japan and Colombia.


Breaking down several factors in the evaluation report, Forbes.com noted that Japan "scored highly in the technical aspects of its bid. However, the country has proposed staging the tournament outside the designated window cleared by FIFA between 10 July and 20 August 2023, which coincides with the hottest and most humid part of the year. FIFA notes that ’such a move would require amendments to the women's match calendar, which was drawn up to help drive the professionalization of women's football and protect the health and well-being of players.’"


Citing the sweltering summer heat during the designated period assigned by FIFA, the JFA proposed an early June-early July period for the 2023 World Cup in Japan.


The Australia-New Zealand bid plan, on the other hand, falls between the FIFA-designated dates.


Tashima insisted the JFA bid was a worthwhile effort and a feasible plan.


"We have shown how we could host the tournament in Japan in our bid, so I don't think our efforts were in vain," Tashima said.


The JFA chief didn't rule out a future Women's World Cup bid.


Tashima, who served as Japan Bid Committee chairperson, spoke about the decision to end the bid without offering many specifics.


"The decision to withdraw from the bid was taken after careful and thorough consideration in the Japan Bid Committee as well as the JFA Executive Committee," Tashima said in a statement.


"As stated in our Ideal, 'through football we realize the full benefits that sports can bring to our lives the soundness of our bodies, the expansion of our minds and the enrichment of our societies,’ and we stand by our own words with full responsibility. The COVID-19 pandemic has hit the world and also the whole football family hard. We will continue to support the severely affected football clubs financially and work together with all stakeholders to bring back the world where we can safely enjoy the game we all love."


By withdrawing its bid, the Japan Football Association shifts its support to the Australia-New Zealand bid. Australia is also an Asian Football Confederation member.


In 2007, five years after Japan co hosted the 2002 World Cup with South Korea, the JFA announced its desire to host the Women's World Cup in the future.


Four years later, Nadeshiko Japan captured the Women's World Cup title in Germany by beating the United States in the final. In 2015, the U.S. routed Japan in the title rematch. 


With the Tokyo Olympics on the horizon and the launch of the WE League, a new pro women's circuit set to supersede the Nadeshiko League for 2021, JFA officials have highlighted the period from 2020 to 2023 as an important catalyst for growing the women's game here.


Japan's 2023 bid featured eight venues: Sapporo Dome, Kyoto Stadium, Suita City Football Stadium, Kobe Misaki Stadium, Toyota Stadium, National Stadium, Saitama Stadium and Sendai Stadium.


Author:  Ed Odeven

Follow Ed on JAPAN Forward's [Japan Sports Notebook] here on Sundays,  in [Odds and Evens] here during the week, and Twitter @itsjapanforward.


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