FFA Chairman Chris Nikou believes the legacy that a Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand would leave on South East Asia and the Pacific has the trans-Tasman bid well placed in the race to win the rights to stage the tournament.
While New Zeland's presence in the Pacific is well established by virtue of its membership in the Oceania confederation, Australia has also recently taken steps to re-establish its presence in the region; the Junior Matildas staging a tour of Tonga, Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands as part of the Australian Government's "Pacific Step-up" in August 2019.
Heading into the mad rush of negotiating and politicking that will define the final days of the process, the trans-Tasman bid can all but certainly rely on the support of at least two votes of Oceania’s representatives on the FIFA council.
But it is now in a race with Japan to secure the support from the Asian votes on the council and engaged in a three-way tussle for votes from African, European and North American representatives.
“Obviously, Japan has put in a good bid, you wouldn’t expect anything less,” Nikou, who also sits on the AFC Executive Committee, told FTBL.
“For us, one of the important things is that we want to leave a legacy in the Asia Pacific area. For me, personally, I’d like us to lead the way for the advancement of women’s sport throughout the AFC.
“Part of the legacy piece of our bid is to do that, just to help AFC countries and listen about promoting the women’s game and equality throughout Asia. I think that hopefully resonates with a lot of the AFC, particularly our ASEAN colleagues.
“I think we’ve got a wider responsibility as a member of the AFC to work with our other member federations in the AFC about this important part of the sport.
"So whether that’s having a centre for women’s development here in Melbourne or elsewhere in Australia that we invite ASEAN countries or we play more tournaments for our girls and women, they’re all important initiatives.
“I think it’s consistent with what FIFA has said is that ambition around women’s sport. I think our bid aligns pretty neatly with those sorts of priorities and KPIs.”