Joint bid to host 2027 Women’s World Cup
Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands want to host the Women’s World Cup in 2027. Their bid prioritises a compact World Cup with short travel times.
In an unprecedented move, Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium have submitted a joint bid to host the next Women’s World Cup in 2027. “Breaking New Ground” or BNG for short is the motto of the bid. The letters also stand for the English names of the three countries behind the bid: Belgium, Netherlands and Germany. If they are successful, the Women’s World Cup would be staged in three countries for the first time. The 2023 finals are being hosted jointly by Australia and New Zealand.
Governments back World Cup bid
The leaders of the three European countries have pledged their full support for the bid. “It’s time to unite the world of football in the heart of Europe and to make the FIFA Women’s World Cup a sustainable festival of football, peace and joy,” said Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Belgian PM Alexander De Croo in late June. They drew attention to the significance of football to their countries, the positive trends in women’s football in particular, and the wide-ranging experience in hosting major sporting events.
The prompt for a joint World Cup bid came from the Netherlands, which hosted the 2017 Women’s European Championships. According to Gijs de Jong, Secretary General of the Dutch football association KNVB, women’s football in the Netherlands had enjoyed a huge upsurge in popularity since the European Championships, and that there was now “more public interest, a more professional environment and more active players year on year.” With 32 teams from around the world taking part, the idea came about that, instead of hosting the great festival of football alone, the Netherlands should partner with its neighbours Germany and Belgium.
Close friendship between Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands
A joint World Cup could also be a great opportunity for the relationship between the three states, says Bernhard Liemann, an expert from the Benelux special information service, which is based in Münster in Germany and focuses on Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg. With reference to the three closely allied EU states, Liemann says, “A successful bid would certainly strengthen the partnership between the three countries.”
Throughout history, a good relationship has developed between the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany, and in particular Germany’s most populous federal state North Rhine-Westphalia. “You don’t need to invent anything: good relations are something people live out in practice every day here,” says Liemann. “All three countries were among the founding members of the EU and have worked together as close and trusting partners for decades. And not just at a national level, but also at regional and local levels.”
As an expert on Benelux countries, Liemann says it would be important for the neighbourly relationship between Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands if their joint European bid was successful. He argues that, while relations between the neighbours are relaxed and uncomplicated, there is a risk of “taking things for granted.” “It seems to be a matter of course for us to live together as good neighbours, but if you sit back and do nothing, a good relationship can quickly cool off again.”Liemann describes the joint bid as “a very good way” of fostering the good relationship between the neighbouring countries not only on an official level, but on a human level too.
A sustainable World Cup with short journeys
Short journeys are an essential element in the joint German, Dutch and Belgian World Cup bid. The aim is to keep distances between match venues short for financial and environmental reasons. For example, the only German cities included in the bid are Dortmund, Düsseldorf and Cologne, all of which are in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, which borders Belgium and the Netherlands. Fans there can get to Amsterdam in the Netherlands or Brussels in Belgium more quickly than to Berlin or Munich, Liemann says. “That gives you a compact World Cup, but also one where visitors can still get to know three completely different countries,” he says.
Pascale van Damme, President of the RFBA, the Belgian football association, said the joint concept was not just an effort by the various football governing bodies to stage a World Cup with outstanding sport. “They also want a strong focus on sustainability, diversity, inclusion and digital innovation,” he says.
FIFA to pick 2027 World Cup host in 2024
The three countries will have to wait until 2024 to find out if they are hosting the World Cup. On 17 May next year, representatives of the 211 member associations of the Congress of the world football association FIFA will meet in the Thai capital Bangkok to choose the successful bid. Nevertheless, the joint European bid faces stiff competition, with bids from South Africa, Brazil, and a joint US/Mexican bid still in the running. South Africa and Brazil can base their claim on the fact that the Women’s World Cup has not yet been held in either South America or Africa.
The choice of which country gets to host the World Cup will in any case mark a milestone for equality, as FIFA has already announced that spending on the next women’s tournament will match that for men’s World Cup competitions.