The lead-up tournament will serve as a test event in Australia and New Zealand. Europe (UEFA) will get 11 direct slots in the World Cup, while Asia (AFC) gets six and Africa (CAF), like CONCACAF, gets four.
South America (CONMEBOL) gets three and Oceania (OFC) one. Australia and New Zealand’s slots are taken directly from the quotas allocated to their confederations.
The 2019 World Cup field of 24 teams 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 play-off. The first Women’s World Cup, held in 1991 in China, had 12 participants.
Australia and New Zealand won the hosting rights to the tournament – the biggest sporting event to be staged domestically since the 2000 Sydney Olympics – in June. The Matildas are currently ranked seventh in the world.
FFA chief James Johnson wants the side to play at least 11 matches a year leading into 2023.
‘‘We want the Matildas to have the best possible preparation for the World Cup on home soil,’’ he told the Herald in July. ‘‘That means being active in every single FIFA window and playing top-level opposition. Ideally, most of these matches would be in Australia.
‘‘We will be able to attract high-quality opponents here because they will want to experience their next World Cup host country in advance. Obviously, we will need governments to support this and continue the ‘Team Australia’ effort that has so far delivered a great result with a winning bid.’’
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.