FIFA has requested through its ruling council to fast-track discussions around expanding the Women's World Cup from 24 teams to 32.
The federation hopes to approve adding eight more teams within days without having a formal meeting, according to the Associated Press and ESPN FC.
The move would also delay the bidding process for the 2023 World Cup, which had been scheduled to be decided in March 2020. Nine federations were expected to submit formal plans by October to host a 24-team tournament. FIFA wants to change the bid process now, and ask the nine federations to re-confirm interest for a 32-team tournament in addition to inviting other federations to place a bid.
If council members can reach an agreement about the expansion by next week, then FIFA plans to select the host in May instead of March.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino said in the days after the 2019 World Cup that the federation hopes to grow the tournament by adding eight more teams and doubling the prize money to $60 million. He believes the latest tournament, which was won by USA in France at the beginning of the month, will help speed up the development of the women's game and the World Cup showed that it would be possible to have a larger tournament.
“FIFA has a responsibility to ensure that its women’s competitions not only showcase women’s football at the highest level, but also act as a catalyst to grow the game,” council members have been told (via The Guardian).
If eight more teams are added to the Women's World Cup, countries likely will invest more money into their women's programs with the hopes of making it into the tournament. A larger field would also add more depth, which will be key after the USWNT secured back-to-back titles by defeating the strongest competition the tournament has seen yet.