ZURICH: The joint bid from Australia and New Zealand is favourite to host the 2023 Women’s World Cup after emerging as highest-rated of the three remaining challengers in FIFA’s evaluation report.

The world federation’s council will take a formal decision in a video teleconference on June 25. Individual voting by all members will be made public.

A 200-plus page document explained how Australia-New Zealand had scored 4.1 points from a maximum five in its proposal for the first 32-team women’s tournament. The bid was also rated the “most commercially favorable.”

The two other bidders were Japan, which scored 3.9, and Colombia which rated 2.8.

Japan’s experience of hosting major events was praised but it had hoped to play host in the cooler weather of June-July instead of FIFA’s preferred July-August dates. Colombia met FIFA’s minimum requirements but the plan needed “significant amount of investment and support” with only three years to prepare.

Chris Nikou, president of Football Federation Australia, was “delighted” by the report.

He said: “We are confident that our combination of technical excellence, record breaking crowds, commercial certainty, a warm embrace from our 200 different cultures and genuine impact across the region where the legacies will be profound will prove a compelling offer to FIFA and its confederations.

“We are two nations from two confederations, united in proposing a historic and exciting step forward for world football.  It will be a tournament of firsts. The first ever co-confederation hosted FIFA World Cup™, the first ever FIFA Women’s World Cup™ to be held in the Asia-Pacific region, and the first ever to be held in the southern hemisphere.”

Nikou’s New Zealand counterpart, Johanna Wood, said: “The report demonstrates many of our key strengths and we are very pleased to have received the highest overall average score of 4.1 out of five.

“If successful, we will place the interests of the greatest female footballers in the world at the centre of everything we do, to deliver a FIFA Women’s World Cup the global football family can be proud of.”