25 Jun 2020

NZF expecting close vote for World Cup hosting rights

7:35 pm on 25 June 2020

New Zealand Football boss Andrew Pragnell is cautiously optimistic their joint bid with Australia to host the 2023 Women's World Cup will soon be confirmed as successful.

NZ Football chief executive Andrew Pragnell.

NZ Football chief executive Andrew Pragnell. Photo: Andrew Cornaga/Photosport

The winning bid will be announced at 4am on Friday, following a vote of the Fifa Council.

New Zealand and Australia are favourites to beat out their only rival Colombia and host the event, especially after the trans-Tasman partnership received the highest rating in a Fifa evaluation report earlier this month.

Pragnell, though, said they weren't celebrating yet, even with the withdrawal of Japan's bid on Monday.

"Certainly statistically you go from three competitors to two and the two remaining competitors odds increase but actually there's a lot of support for both sides.

"We've got some optimism, there's lots of signs of positivity but we know that it's not over till it's over."

A closer analysis of the voting process also indicated the joint bid was far from over the line yet.

A total of 35 Fifa Council members will cast votes, with either bid needing to reach 18 votes to be successful.

Both bids are expected to receive all votes from their respective confederations, giving New Zealand and Australia nine (Asia and Oceania) and Colombia four (South America).

But with Colombia expected to get the majority of the nine votes available for European members, the equation becomes much closer, making the remaining African and North and Central America confederations crucial battle grounds.

"Look, we're not taking any votes for granted," Pragnell said.

"There's been some really positive public statements out of Oceania and Asia, and that's great. For us it's about making sure that all council members hear the same message.

"Yes, we're getting some positive affirmation but we don't take them as a given and no votes are given until they're cast."

Winning the hosting rights would undoubtedly be a big coup for New Zealand and Australian football.

Pragnell said, with the Women's World Cup growing exponentially, it was hard to understate what it would mean to be successful.

"This is the type of event that comes around once in a lifetime for a country like ours to host, and may be growing so fast we could never host it again

"If you put it in that context, it's quite a significant milestone for football in New Zealand and for New Zealand as a whole."