(ATR) FIFA will decide on the host country for the 2023 Women’s World Cup behind closed doors.

(FIFA)Football’s world governing body says that the 37-member FIFA Council will select the host in secret rather than having the FIFA Congress decide in a public vote, as was done last year for the 2026 men’s World Cup.

The Congress chose the joint bid from the United States, Mexico and Canada over Morocco.

FIFA had taken the duty of choosing the men’s host away from its ruling committee and given it to all 211 member associations in the wake of corruption investigations into the vote for the men’s hosts for 2018 and 2022.

While FIFA launched its first-ever global strategy for women’s football in October to develop and grow the women’s game from the grassroots, the decision to keep the bid process different for the men’s and women’s tournaments is the latest evidence of gender inequality when it comes to the federation’s showpiece events.

Former England women’s forward Sue Smith, speaking on Sky Sports in the UK, summed up the frustration felt by many in the women’s game. 

“It just doesn’t seem right, does it?” she said. “We’re craving for things to be treated the same way so it’s the same process and yet it’s not.”

Other examples of gender inequality include FIFA allowing the finals for two continental men’s tournaments, the Copa America and the CONCACAF Gold Cup, to be held on the same day (July 7) as the 2019 Women’s World Cup final. There are never any competing fixtures for the men’s World Cup final.

This follows the controversy from the 2015 Women’s World Cup in Canada, where the women were required to play on artificial surfaces rather than on grass. FIFA forbids the use of plastic pitches for the men’s World Cup.

FIFA did reveal last September that for the first time it would pay for business-class flights for teams that have a more than a four hour flight to get to France for the 2019 Women’s World Cup. The Associated Press reported that FIFA offers business-class flights for 50 members of every men’s World Cup delegation. 

The bidding process for the 2023 Women’s World Cup, announced on Tuesday, follows a very tight timeline. The deadline to submit an expression of interest to FIFA is March 15. The bidding registration must be completed by April 16 and bid books must be submitted by Oct. 4. The FIFA Council decision on the host will be made in March 2020.

Australia, Colombia, Japan and South Africa have expressed an interest in hosting in 2023. 

Written by Gerard Farek

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