ZURICH (AP) — CONCACAF will have four direct berths for the expanded Women’s World Cup in 2023, and two more teams from the region will have a chance to join them via a 10-team playoff tournament.
The United States, Canada, and Jamaica represented the confederation covering North and Central America and the Caribbean at the 24-team World Cup in France last year. A fourth CONCACAF country, Panama, had a chance to qualify, but lost 5-1 to Argentina on aggregate in a home-and-away CONCACAF-CONMEBOL playoff.
FIFA released the breakdown for the 32-team women’s tournament on Thursday. Europe (UEFA) will get 11 direct slots, while Asia (AFC) gets six and Africa (CAF), like CONCACAF, gets four. South America (CONMEBOL) gets three and Oceania (OFC) one.
Host Australia and New Zealand automatically qualify, with their slots taken directly from the quotas allocated to their confederations.
The 2019 World Cup field featured nine teams from Europe, including host France, five from Asia, three from Africa and CONCACAF, two from South America, one from Oceania and the winner of the CONCACAF-CONMEBOL playoff.
The first Women’s World Cup, held in 1991 in China, had 12 participants.
Four teams will be seeded in the 2023 playoff tournament, based on the latest FIFA world rankings prior to the draw, with a maximum of one seeded team per confederation. The teams will be divided into three pools — two of three countries and one of four — with sides from the same confederation kept apart.
The playoff tournament will serve as a test event in Australia and New Zealand, with both hosts taking part in friendly matches against the teams in Group 1 and Group 2, ensuring all teams play two matches during the competition.
In other tournament news, FIFA has canceled the Under-17 and Under-20 World Cups scheduled for next year due to the pandemic. The next editions are now due to be staged in 2023, with Indonesia still hosting the U20s and Peru the U17s.
FIFA says “the COVID-19 pandemic continues to present challenges for the hosting of international sporting events and to have a restrictive effect on international travel.”
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