In Australia and New Zealand, 32 countries are welcomed for the first time in the history of the World Cup. After the success of the World Cup in France, FIFA decided to expand the field of participants “to further develop women’s football”. Three years ago, 24 countries participated in the World Cup and in 2011 there were still 16 countries. The Women’s World Cup has been held only since 1991.
Of the 32 participating countries, 29 are known. In February, ten countries will compete in the intercontinental qualifiers for the last three tickets to the World Cup. These are Cameroon, Thailand, Portugal (Group A), Senegal, Haiti, Chile (Group B), Taiwan, Paraguay, Papua New Guinea and Panama (Group C). All of these matches are held in New Zealand.
The draw will take place on Saturday at 8.30 am (Netherlands time) in Auckland, New Zealand. Australian swimmer Kate Campbell and New Zealand swimmer Zoi Sadowski-Synnott help pull the balls. Campbell is a four-time Olympic champion, while Sadosky Sinnott won New Zealand’s first gold medal at the Winter Games earlier this year.
The national team coach, Juncker, traveled to Auckland for the draw. FIFA President Gianni Infantino, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Australian Sports Minister Annika Wells are also among the 800 or so guests at Aotea, New Zealand’s largest performing arts center.