Australia, New Zealand to co-host 2023 Women’s World Cup

A video monitor with the FIFA delegates is pictured during a virtual FIFA Council Meeting held behind closed doors at FIFA headquarters on Thursday. (AFP)
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Updated 25 June 2020

Australia, New Zealand to co-host 2023 Women’s World Cup

  • The 2023 tournament will be the first time a World Cup for men or women will be shared across two continental bodies, and the first co-hosted women’s edition

ZURICH: Australia and New Zealand will co-host the 2023 Women’s World Cup.

The island neighbors beat Colombia 22-13 on Thursday in a vote by the FIFA Council.

The expanded 32-team tournament — eight more than the 2019 edition in France — is expected to open in July 2023.

The winning bid proposed 12 cities with seven in Australia and five in New Zealand. It includes the main stadium used for the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

After a successful World Cup last year, FIFA wants the next women’s tournament to further establish its independence from the men, and show it is commercially attractive.

At least $100 million is expected to be paid by the governing body in 2023 — for prize money, team preparation costs and to clubs releasing players for the tournament — FIFA President Gianni Infantino pledged last year
in France.

Colombia’s bid was rated a high-risk commercial option in an evaluation of the candidates published this month. Australia and New Zealand’s bid was rated low-risk and scored 4.1 points out of a maximum 5. Colombia scored 2.8.

A third candidate, Japan, withdrew on Monday. That gave fellow Asian Football Confederation member Australia a clearer run. 

New Zealand is part of the smaller Oceania continental group.

The 2023 tournament will be the first time a World Cup for men or women will be shared across two continental bodies, and the first co-hosted women’s edition.

Colombia’s bid was supported by most of the nine voters from European soccer body UEFA.

Launched in 1991, the Women’s World Cup has never been hosted in South America.

Both Australia, the No. 7-ranked team in women’s soccer, and No. 23 New Zealand will qualify automatically for the tournament.

Colombia is currently ranked No. 25 and was the only one of the three bidders not to qualify for the 2019 edition.


The NBA Finals: Why the Lakers will win the championship

Updated 24 min 50 sec ago

The NBA Finals: Why the Lakers will win the championship

LeBron James believed he could win every time he advanced to the NBA Finals.
A couple occasions, he realistically had little chance. His first and last appearances in Cleveland ended in sweeps, overmatched Cavaliers teams routed by San Antonio in 2007 and Golden State in 2018.
In his 10th NBA Finals, he sees his first opportunity with the Los Angeles Lakers the same way he viewed his trips in Cleveland and Miami.
“The game is won between the four lines, not won on paper,” James said. “At the end of the day, when I’ve lost in the finals, the better team won because they played well, they were more prepared and they did what they needed to do to win those four games.”
This time, that’s going to be his team.
With Anthony Davis alongside James, the Lakers are armed with the same type of firepower they had when Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant led them to the first of three straight titles 20 years ago.
The two first-team selections to the All-NBA team have combined for 60 or more points 20 times in their first season together, and the Lakers have won 19.
They are now set up to win the Lakers’ first title in a decade.
“Now we want to make sure that we finish this thing off right,” Davis said.
James shows almost no drop-off at 35, tying his career high with four triple-doubles in these playoffs. He is averaging 26.7 points, 10.3 rebounds and 8.9 assists, numbers no player has ever reached through his first 15 games of a postseason.
Davis has been just as dominant, right about at his career postseason average of 29.6 points that trails only Michael Jordan (33.4) and Allen Iverson (29.7) among players who have appeared in at least 25 games.
The Heat, with Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler anchoring a strong defense, might be able to take one of them away. Nobody is stopping both.
The Lakers’ role players give them plenty of support, from playoff-tested veterans Rajon Rondo, Dwight Howard and Danny Green, to newcomers such as Kyle Kuzma and Alex Caruso. Los Angeles is shooting 49.8% as a team, tops in the postseason.
The Lakers are also limiting teams to 106.5 points, third-lowest in the playoffs, and the Heat might be the least explosive squad they will have faced. Portland had Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, Houston followed with NBA scoring leader James Harden and Russell Westbrook, and Denver boasted Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic, the top two players in total points in the playoffs.
Los Angeles knocked all three teams out in five games.
Once they did, thoughts turned to the proper way to cap off what’s been a challenging season for the Lakers. A preseason trip to China turned turbulent following Houston general manager Daryl Morey’s tweet supporting democratic protesters in Hong Kong. Bryant, a franchise icon, was killed in a helicopter crash in January. The coronavirus pandemic halted the season and forced players to be away from their families for months when it resumed.
Four more wins and the Lakers can go home to them.
“Every day since we been in the bubble it’s been like, man, this is a great opportunity. Take full advantage of it and stay in the moment,” Howard said. “You know, even after we won the Western Conference finals, I wanted to be like, all right, this is not the goal just to win the Western Conference finals. The goal is the win the championship.”
They will. Lakers in five.
___
Brian Mahoney is a national basketball writer for The Associated Press. Write to him at bmahoney(at)ap.org