KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: Japan has withdrawn its bid for the 2023 Women’s World Cup, apparently to avoid a presumed loss of face when host rights are expected to be awarded to Australia and New Zealand later this week.

The governing council of world football federation FIFA meets in video conference on Thursday when it will consider the evaluation report into the various bids. The Australasian bid achieved positive marks in the published summary to attain odds-on favourites’ status ahead of Japan and Colombia.

The Japanese withdrawal enabled the Asian confederation to throw its full support between Australia and New Zealand.

AFC president Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa said: “On behalf of the AFC – and the Asian football family – I will be supporting the Australia/New Zealand bid to host the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2023 – and am sure that I will be supported by all the AFC’s FIFA Council members.

“Not only is this a historic cross-confederation bid, with our close friends and neighbours from Oceania, but most importantly, this is the most technically impressive of the bids that the council must choose from on June 25 and we must be guided by the experts.

“The FIFA Evaluation report could not have been clearer on the outstanding sporting infrastructure that will allow the players to perform at their optimum level and are in keeping with the ever-growing profile of this world-class competition.”

Colombian officials, supported by South American confederation CONMEBOL, have criticised what they claim to be a critical misrepresentation of their own bid’s potential.

Japan, winners in 2011, has never staged the Women’s World Cup but co-hosted the men’s event in 2002 with neighbours South Korea. It has also been a regular host of the annual FIFA Club World Cup.

Kohzo Tashima, the Japanese FA president who is also a member of FIFA Council, said the bid had been withdrawn “after careful and thorough consideration.”

Full statement:

Japan Football Association today, on 22 June, announced its withdrawal from the Bid to host the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023™. Below is the statement from TASHIMA Kohzo, President of Japan Football Association and Chairperson of Japan Bid Committee.

Over the years, Japan’s contribution to develop the women’s game has extended overseas. Coaches have been dispatched to Asian countries/regions and grassroots events have been conducted, to ensure Asian women’s football will be raised to the world’s top level.  

Japan first declared to become a candidate to host the FIFA Women’s World Cup™ at the JFA Executive Committee in 2007. Along with the upcoming Tokyo Olympics and establishment of Women’s Professional Football league, the Japan FA has been thriving to push forward the enhancement and development of women’s football.

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.

As stated in our Ideal, “Through football we realise 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.

As the only nation to have won the World Cup at every age level, we have felt in our own hearts the impact the FIFA Women’s World Cup™ can have on individuals and society as a whole. As a result of JFA’s ceaseless efforts to empower people through our social activities, we also know the power of football to influence society.

Now, we can show the solidarity of Asian Football Family, to lead to a successful bid. Japan will cooperate with FIFA and the host nation(s) to ensure women’s football in the world continues to advance, expand and ascend to a higher level.