China has announced plans to submit a bid to host soccer’s FIFA Women’s World Cup for the third time in 2031.
As part of an initiative to grow women’s soccer in the country, the General Administration of Sport of China, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Finance, and the Chinese Football Association (CFA) issued a joint plan on Monday (October 24) to stage the tournament.
The country previously hosted the Women's World Cup in 1991 and 2007.
Through the plan, called the Chinese Women’s Football Reform and Development Programme, the authorities are keen to promote the development of women's soccer in China by 2035.
To achieve this goal, the Chinese team aims to reach the quarter-finals of the 2023 World Cup and the 2024 Olympic Games and ultimately secure a top-four finish in the 2031 World Cup and 2032 Olympics.
The Chinese authorities also aim to have the women’s team rank in the top tier in Asia by 2025 and be among the world’s leading teams by 2030.
Presently, while the national men’s team is ranked 79 in the world, the Chinese women are 15th.
The plan stated: “By 2035, the level of participation and popularity of women’s football will have increased significantly, and football will be a universal sport among women.
“The organization and level of competition in women’s football leagues will reach a world-class level.”
The authorities are also set to build 30 youth training centers for women’s soccer and have 50 teams competing in the three-tier Chinese women’s league by 2025.
The reform plan comes just eight months after China won the AFC Women’s Asian Cup, beating South Korea 3-2 and winning the championship for the first time in 16 years but extending its record to nine titles.
China faces a challenging task in next year’s World Cup having been drawn into a group with Denmark and UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 winners England.
The tournament will be held in Australia and New Zealand from 20 July to 20 August and feature 32 teams for the first time.
The hosts for the 2027 edition are yet to be named. The confirmed bids so far come from South Africa and jointly from Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands.
Jacob Kemp, analyst at GlobalData, said: "The Chinese bid comes on the back of its country’s strategy to further promote and grow the game in China by 2035. The country’s ambitious plans to grow soccer more widely over the next couple of decades have also recently seen all men’s Chinese Super League teams form accompanying women’s teams (which was planned to come in by 2020).
"The national team is hoping to continue to progress on the world stage over the next decade, in what could coincide with a strong run at their own World Cup in 2031. The standard and respect of the game have grown so much over time in China, that the tournament would also be very different from previous editions, with far greater broadcasting and sponsorship interest.
"The 2007 World Cup hosted by China recorded impressive attendance figures, totaling almost 1.2 million across its 32 games, at an average of 37,218 per game, as China ultimately dropped out at the quarter-final stage.
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