Brazil picked to host 2027 Women's World Cup at Fifa Congress


BRAZIL was declared host of the 2027 Women's World Cup after winning a vote at the annual Fifa Congress today, beating the joint bid of Belgium, Netherlands and Germany to become the first South American country picked to stage the tournament.

Brazil won with 119 votes versus 78 for the joint European entry, boosted by a technical evaluation from world governing body Fifa that gave a high score for its commercial plan and stadiums purpose-built for the 2014 Men's World Cup.

"We knew we would be celebrating a victory for South American women's soccer and for women," said Ednaldo Rodrigues, president of the Brazilian Football Confederation.

"You can be sure, with no vanity, we will accomplish the best World Cup for women."

The Congress in Bangkok heard a call by Fifa for all members to implement mandatory sanctions to tackle racist abuse.

There was also a Palestinian proposal to suspend the Israel Football Association (IFA), accusing it of multiple violations of Fifa statutes, including over the war in Gaza and inclusion in Israel's leagues of teams located in Palestinian territory.

Since an Oct 7 cross-border raid by Hamas-led gunmen that Israel says killed more than 1,200 people, the offensive in Gaza has left more than 35,000 Palestinians dead, according to Gaza health officials.

Fifa President Gianni Infantino said an urgent legal assessment of the Palestinian allegations would be undertaken and the Fifa Council would convene an extraordinary Congress in late July to address the issue.

He said he was extremely shocked by both the Oct 7 attack and the devastation in Gaza, adding: "I pray for all those people who suffer unimaginably."

The president of the Palestinian Football Association (PFA), Jibril Rajoub, had accused the IFA of racism and discrimination, in a proposal that alleged complicity in its failure to condemn the operations in Gaza. The IFA rejected that.

"Fifa cannot afford to remain indifferent to these violations or the ongoing genocide in Palestine," Rajoub told the Congress. "I ask you to stand on the right side of history... If not now, when?"

Israeli counterpart Shino Moshe Zuares said the proposal had nothing to do with football and the IFA had broken no rules.

"Once again, we are facing a cynical political and hostile attempt by the PFA to harm Israel," he said.

"I am holding myself back ... in the hope things can be better for the game for those who play in Israel, the Palestinian authority, or those who play all over the world."

The vote on the Women's World Cup had been whittled down to two candidates after the United States and Mexico withdrew to pursue the 2031 tournament instead.

Brazil had scored 4.0 out of 5 compared to 3.7 for Belgium-Netherlands-Germany in the Fifa evaluation, which had highlighted the European bid's compactness, solid commercial viability and short distances between venues, but noted smaller capacities of its 13 stadiums.

Brazil soccer chief Rodrigues said the win was the result of conviction, not lobbying.

"We were not campaigning, asking for votes. We were working to give Fifa what it needed," he said.

The bid's operational manager Valesca Araujo said the aim was to boost women's soccer in South America, which was underdeveloped and had huge potential.

"The concept we presented went beyond a sports tournament. We worked for a transformation," she said.

"Now we have to celebrate. It's a great achievement for South America."

Fifa vowed to be tough on racism with a call for strict measures to be implemented by all member over instances of abuse, including forfeiting of matches, and introducing racism as an offence in players' disciplinary codes.

It advocates suspending or abandoning games plus the introduction of a global standard gesture for players to inform referees of racist abuse.

"If it is a problem of society and society can't deal with it, let's deal with it in football once and for all," Infantino said.

Infantino also weighed in on what he called a "futile debate" over the volume of matches played globally, arguing Fifa organised about one per cent of club games and just one to two per cent of national team matches.

He reminded delegates that most Fifa members "would have no football without the resources" Fifa provides.

"I hope these figures will show that we should probably stop this futile debate, it's really pointless, and focus on what we need to do," he said. - REUTERS

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