The FIFA Council Wednesday unanimously agreed to a proposal to expand the number of teams taking part in the Women’s World Cup from 24 to 32.

It will go into effect with the 2023 tournament.

Since the bidding process for the 2023 World Cup is already underway − with the nine bidders initially expected to submit their bid books Oct. 4 – the FIFA Council made this decision remotely, and not at one of its meetings.

Having been presented with a background document on the expansion, the council voted in favor of adopting the 32-team format. As a consequence, the council updated the hosting requirements and the timeline of the bidding process:

* August 2019: circular to be sent out with a short time window for:

— current bidding member associations to reconfirm their interest in bidding

— any other eligible member associations to express their interest in bidding

* December 2019: deadline for bid submission

* April 2020: expected publication of Bid Evaluation Report

* May 2020: expected appointment of host(s)

The FIFA administration also will initiate a consultation process with the confederations to develop a proposal for the slot allocation, which should be approved by the FIFA Council.

“The astounding success of this year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup in France made it very clear that this is the time to keep the momentum going and take concrete steps to foster the growth of women’s football. I am glad to see this proposal – the first of several − becoming a reality,” FIFA president Gianni Infantino said in a statement.

“The expansion reaches far beyond the eight additional participating teams: it means that, from now on, dozens more member associations will organize their women’s football program knowing they have a realistic chance of qualifying. The FIFA Women’s World Cup is the most powerful trigger for the professionalization of the women’s game, but it comes but once every four years and is only the top of a much greater pyramid. In the meantime, we all have a duty to do the groundwork and strengthen women’s football development infrastructure across all confederations.”