Fifa have confirmed South Africa as one of the eight countries left in the race to host the next Women’s World Cup, meeting Monday’s deadline to stay in the bidding process.
The South African Football Association have now received the bidding and hosting documents from Fifa and will have until December 13 to submit a bid book, the signed hosting agreement and all other hosting and bidding documents to world football’s governing body in Zurich.
The South African Football Association are still to get formal buy-in from government and planned meetings with the sports ministry over the last months have not happened.
But SAFA chief executive officer Russell Paul confirmed to SuperSport.com that a meeting with sports minister Nathi Mthethwa is scheduled in the next days.
There is an anxiety in the soccer community that the government will turn down requests to financially back the tournament, feeling that funding for major sports event which could run well over R100-million would not be appropriate in the current economic climate, what with the crisis at parastals like Eskom, South African Airways and the SABC.
But SAFA are also hopeful that the impact that a Women’s World Cup would have on the youth of the country would persuade government to see its merits.
Mthethwa attended Banyana Banyana’s opening game at the Women’s World Cup in France in June and was said to be bowled over by the impact women’s sport made.
After expanding the size of the next women’s World Cup to 32 teams two months ago, the bidding process was re-opened but there are still only nine countries bidding in what is a low-profile affair, with Fifa purposely not seeking to repeat the previous circus-like publicity swirl that has surrounded the bidding process.
The other countries are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Colombia, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea (who are planning a joint bid with North Korea). Dropping out zare Belgium and Bolivia from the largest-ever list of countries to have submitted a bid for a single tournament in Fifa’s history.
For the next women’s World Cup, Fifa do not want the host country to build new infra structure but to use established stadia, which heightens South Africa’s chances.
The winner of the bidding process is expected to be named by May, giving the host nation exactly three years to prepare.