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FIFA members to vote on the host of the 2027 Women’s World Cup

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The FIFA Congress will pick from a winnowed field of two candidates to host the 2027 Women’s World Cup at its meeting in Bangkok this week.

A joint bid by the United States and Mexico was pulled late last month, and South Africa withdrew its candidacy in November. That left only two bids standing for Friday’s vote: A joint proposal from Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany, and another from Brazil.

It’s the first time that all 211 of FIFA’s members associations will have the opportunity weigh in on the host of the women’s tournament. Previously, it was decided by the FIFA Council, the governing body’s decision-making committee.

Brazil is favored to win the contest, particularly after ranking higher in a FIFA evaluation report last week.

“The document shows Brazil has fulfilled with excellency all the rigid demands of the bidding process,” Brazilian soccer confederation president Ednaldo Rodrigues said.

Brazil’s bid, titled “As Natural as Football,” emphasizes an event that will inspire women and girls, as well raise awareness of such issues as sustainability, social responsibility and inclusion.

Brazil was also in the running for the 2023 Women’s World Cup, but dropped out citing lingering hardship from the COVID-19 pandemic. Japan also withdrew late in that process. When the bids were ultimately considered, there were only two, Colombia and the joint submission from Australia and New Zealand, which ultimately won with 63% of the council’s vote.

Brazil has hosted two men’s World Cups, in 1950 and 2014, and the 2016 Olympics. A South American country has never hosted a Women’s World Cup and fellow CONMEBOL nations are likely to support the effort.

“The results published by FIFA add to our strength so we can work harder in this final sprint,” Rodrigues said. “We will work more so we can get the biggest number of votes possible. We want everyone’s support.”

Germany hosted the Women’s World Cup in 2011 and the Netherlands hosted the 2017 Women’s European Championship. Among the advantages of the “BNG” proposal: There are 13 possible host cities that are accessible by train.

Their bid — titled “Breaking New Ground,” using the countries’ initials — marks the first time the three traditional rivals have collaborated as prospective hosts. Belgium and the Netherlands co-hosted the men’s European Championship in 2000.

“There’s a fantastic combination of knowledge from organizing those big tournaments together, with some new ideas,” German soccer federation secretary general Heike Ullrich told The Associated Press. “One very important thing for us was when it comes to organizing a tournament is that it’s compact … so ‘local but global’ is one slogan. The longest distance between two venues is 300 kilometers (185 miles), which means for teams and fans, they can just find their base camp and from there they can go from A to B.”

The evaluation report flagged risks within the legal “contractual framework” that FIFA requires to host the event in the BNG proposal. Ullrich countered that any complications from working with three different governments would be ironed out, and that something like transport, for example, is only arranged after a successful bid. Germany will host the men’s European Championship this year, when ticket holders will have free local transport to games and discounted long-distance services.

“It’s just a question of timing, and when we take these steps,” Ullrich said. “Of course we will match everything FIFA needs to have a FIFA Women’s World Cup.”

Hosting the event has a growing economic benefit, too. The Women’s World Cup in Canada in 2015 drew 1.35 million spectators. There was $493.6 million in economic activity generated by the tournament and the under-20 Women’s World Cup the year before.

At last year’s World Cup it almost doubled, generating $865.7 million for Australia and $67.87 million for co-host New Zealand.

The United States and Mexico withdrew at the end of April after touting $3 billion in economic impact. But the sports calendar was already crowded with the United States, Mexico and Canada set to host the men’s World Cup in 2026, and Los Angeles hosting the 2028 Olympics.

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AP Sports Writers Ciaran Fahey in Berlin and Mauricio Savarese in Sao Paulo contributed to this report.

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AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer

By ANNE M. PETERSON
AP Soccer Writer

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