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The Week in Women's Football: Examing USL comps; reviewing each 2027 bid book

This week, we have some news from the USL's two women's leagues: the new professional Division I Super League which launches in late August for a traditional 2024-25 fall/spring season, including franchise news and the first player signings in the Super League, and the amateur USL W League, entering its third season, which has grown to 80 teams this summer and we focus on the 22 expansion franchises.

We have an update on the 2024-25 CONCACAF W Champions League. We also look at the bid books of the two finalists for the 2027 Women's World Cup hosting rights, which will be determined this month at the FIFA Congress—Netherlands/Belgium/Germany and Brazil, as well as the U.S./Mexico bid book for 2027, which surprisingly withdrew from the race last week and will bid for 2031, where they should begin as huge favorites. We also have a late update after reviewing the FIFA Women's World Cup 2027 Bid Evaluation Report.


USL Super League

This author has become unnerved by the fact that the USL Super League, which begins its first season of play late this summer, had not signed any players as April started, with teams just recently announcing their names and branding. However, on April 23, Tampa Bay started the process by signing two Americans and one Canadian with professional experience in the States and abroad (see more below).

Six of the eight inaugural teams for the 2024-25 season have been named—Brooklyn Football Club [Brooklyn FC], Tampa Bay Sun, Carolina Ascent FC (based in Charlotte), Fort Lauderdale United FC, Lexington (Kentucky) SC and the Spokane (Washington) Zephyr FC, with the teams in Dallas/Ft. Worth and Washington D.C. still to be named. Below, we touch on some news from some of the Super League teams.


Brooklyn FC

Brooklyn Football Club's name, logo and branding was part of a strategy to use the same identifies for all of their teams, in order to reinforce: "a shared identity, ethos, ambition, and values" across the club, from its professional teams to its academy program." The club also will have an expansion USL Championship [men's second division team] team in 2025, according to team CEO Mack Mansfield. The team will play at historic Coney Island.


Carolina Ascent FC

Carolina Ascent FC will play at American Legion Memorial Stadium in Charlotte, N.C., with views of the Charlotte city skyline from behind the North end goal; the stadium's capacity is 10,500.


On May 1, the Carolina Ascent signed their first player for the 2024/25 season—defender Vicky Bruce (29). She played professionally abroad in Australia, Cyprus, Denmark (with Fortuna Hjorring), England, Germany, Iceland, Scotland (Rangers) and Sweden. Bruce spent the 2023/24 season playing for the Western Sydney Wanderers in the Australian A-League, starting all 22 matches and scoring three goals. Bruce started all but two matches as Bristol City won the second division Women's Championship in England during the 2022/23 season. She also won a title with Fortuna Hjorring in Denmark in 2019-20.

Bruce, who played at the University of North Carolina, winning a national title as a freshman and also played at Davidson College in the state, explained her move to a club in her hometown: "I've played professionally overseas for over seven years, but it's always been my dream to play at the highest level in the U.S. Now, not only do I get to realize that dream in the U.S., I get to do it right here in my hometown. I'm honored and grateful to sign with the Carolina Ascent FC."

She played with multiple U.S. youth national teams in high school.



The Ascent's head coach is Philip Poole, a native of England who played at Wingate University in the state and most recently was an assistant coach (from 2020-2024) with the U.S. women's national team.


Fort Lauderdale United FC

Fort Lauderdale United FC will play in the Town of Davie at Nova Southeastern University (NSU Florida). The club has plans for a modernized stadium and on-site training facilities where the former home of the Miami Dolphins (NFL) practice facility is located. This side is a first for women's football in South Florida—further north in the state the Orlando Pride has been in the NWSL since 2016 as the only other fully professional women's team in the state ever; Orlando was originally one of the eight charter members of the WUSA in 2001 but the team moved to North Carolina before the season started.



Tampa Bay Sun

The first three player signings for the Super League were completed by the Tampa Bay Sun in April: two-time NWSL champion Erika Tymrak, Canadian midfielder Jordyn Listro, and midfielder Dominique Richardson. With only four months to go before the summer launch, the new league's franchises should see a lot of signing activity in the next few months. Tymrak (32), won the inaugural NWSL Rookie of the Year award in 2013 with FC Kansas City and was part of the team's NWSL championship victories in 2014 and 2015. She played in the state for the Orlando Pride and with the University of Florida Gators in college. She won a league title with Melbourne City in Australia with 2016-17 and had a short stint in Germany with Bayern Munich in 2013-14. She has three caps for the USWNT.

Jordyn Listro (28) played at the University of South Florida and, as with Tymrak, was most recently with the Pride. Listro appeared for the Canadian national team twice in 2021 and is married to professional golfer Cristian DiMarco. Domi Richardson (31) previously played for three different NWSL teams over nine seasons, including seven seasons with Sky Blue FC/Gotham FC, but her playing time was limited due to injuries; she did win a league title with Tymrak at FC Kansas City in 2015. She previously played with U.S. youth national teams.


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Tampa Bay head coach Denise Schilte-Brown who coached at the University of South Florida said in a statement: "These three women are humble, hard-working and talented players." Schilte-Brown, at USF, coached 2023 WWC Finals players Olivia Chance (New Zealand), Christiane Endler (Chile), and Evelyne Viens (Canada), while Demi Stokes of England did not make the team but won a Women's EURO title in 2022 with England.

Two other recent signings for the Sun include: Riley Mattingly Parker (24) and Vivianne Bessette, another Canadian, who played at USF for Schilte-Brown and was with Canada's U-20 national team at the 2023 U-20 WWC in Costa Rica. Parker played with Racing Louisville in 2023 and went on loan to Tigres of Mexico, but was released by the NWSL side last August. In addition, the Sun is building their own 5,000 seat stadium.


Expansion News for the Super League

In the near future, Atlanta will join the league and plans to be based in suburban Roswell, Georgia. The city is exploring, with the USL, developing an historic women's soccer stadium-anchored entertainment district for a Super League team as a base tenant and to also bring in a USL Championship (Division 2) professional men's team. The latter may be a difficult reach for the league as the city already has a hugely successful Major League Soccer franchise in Atlanta United FC, which launched in 2017 and has drawn multiple crowds exceeding 70,000 people over the years; the side also won a league crown in 2018. The two parties will negotiate over the next nine months through December 31, 2024, with an option to extend the discussions if needed.


W League 2024 season

The W League will begin its third season with 22 new expansion clubs, bringing the league's total to an all-time high of 80 teams. Twelve divisions will comprise the league this season, including the new Mountain and Lone Star Divisions, each featuring five expansion clubs.

The W League regular season will run from May 4 to June 30, followed by the playoffs with the 2024 W League Final on July 20. The 2023 W League Final set a record for the highest-attended women's soccer game in Indiana's history with an attendance of 5,419, capping off a season that featured 24 crowds with over 1,000 fans.

The new teams for 2024, eight of whom are independent, with the rest connected to men's USL teams or other minor league teams, are:

Mid Atlantic Division

  • Carlottesville (VA) Blues FC
  • Richmond (VA) Ivy SC, affiliated with Richmond Kickers USL1
  • Lancaster (PA) Inferno FC

South Atlantic Division

  • Charlotte Eagles (NC) Women, affiliated with Charlotte Independence USL1
  • Fayetteville (NC) Fury, affiliated with the Fayetteville Fury of the NISL (Division 5)

Great Lakes Division

  • Michiana FC Lionesses (Granger, Indiana), affiliated with Michiana FC Lions USL2 (in South Bend, IN)

Heartland Division

  • River Light FC (Aurora, Illinois)

South Central Division

  • Athens FC (Athens, GA), affiliated with Athens United of USL2

Southeast Division

  • Brevard Riptide (Melbourne, FL), affiliated with Brevard SC of USL2
  • Brooke House FC (Maitland, FL), affiliated with Brooke House FC of USL2
  • Tallahassee (FL) Reckoning

Lone Star Division

  • AC Houston (TX) Sur Women, affiliated with AC Houston SUR of USL2
  • AHFC Royals (Houston, TX), affiliated with AHFC Royals of USL2
  • Athenians SC (San Antonio, TX)
  • Challenge SC (Tomball, TX)
  • Lonestar SC (Austin, TX)

Northwest Division

  • Tacoma (WA) Galaxy, affiliated with Tacoma Stars of USL2

Mountain Division

  • Albion SC Colorado (Lafyette, CO), affiliated with Albion SC Boulder County of USL2
  • CISA (Colorado International Soccer Academy of Parker, CO), affiliated with CISA of USL2
  • Colorado Storm (Denver, CO) (Note: the original Colorado Storm made the previous USL W-League Finals in the leagues final season in 2015)
  • Flatirons Rush (Arvada, CO), affiliated with Flatiron Rush of USL2
  • Northern Colorado Rain FC (Windsor, CO), affiliated with Northern Colorado Hailstorm of USL1



CONCACAF W Champions League

Eight of the 11 teams have been determined for the inaugural 2024-25 CONCACAF Women's Champions League (see our column in March for more background on the tournament: The Week in Women's Football: NWSL ins/outs as Houston welcome coach Alonso from Celtic - Tribal Football), which starts this fall, with three participants still to be determined:

  • Canada (1 club in the Preliminary Round): 2023 League 1 Women's Inter-Provincial Championship Winner (Vancouver Whitecaps FC).
  • Costa Rica (1 club in the Group Stage): 2023 Apertura and Clausura Unión Femenina de Fútbol Champion (LD Alajuelense).
  • El Salvador (1 club in the Preliminary Round): 2023/24 Liga Primera Femenina Play-Off Winner (TBD—to be played between the 2023 Apertura and 2024 Clausura Champions).
  • Jamaica (1 club in the Group Stage): 2022/23 Jamaica Women's Premier League Champion (Frazsiers Whip Women)
  • Mexico (3 clubs in the Group Stage): Liga MX Femenil 2023 Apertura Champion (Tigres UANL Femenil), 2024 Clausura Champion (TBD), and the best runner-up (TBD—based on aggregate regular season league points across both competitions—which would be Club America of Mexico City, unless they win the Clausura title later this Spring).
  • Panama (1 club in the Group Stage): Liga de Fútbol Femenino 2024 Apertura Champion (TBD).
  • United States (3 clubs in the Group Stage): 2023 NWSL Champion (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Shield Winner (San Diego Wave FC), and Shield Runner-Up (Portland Thorns FC).

One question for the 2025-26 edition is whether the USL Super League winners for 2024-25 will have either a direct path to qualification, a play-in path or neither. We expect some accommodation as the new league has Division I status, the same as the NWSL.


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The Preliminary Round Play-in will be a single-leg match between Vancouver Whitecaps and the El Salvadoran champions, with the winner advancing to the Group Stage, with two groups comprising ten teams, divided into two groups of five clubs each. At the conclusion of Group Stage play, the group winners and runners-up (four clubs) will progress to the competition's final four. The Semifinals, Third Place Match, and Final, will be held at a centralized venue, which will be selected at a later time.



2027 Women's World Cup Bid Books Review

As this column has done in the past, we examine in detail the two bids for the 2027 Women's World Cup: from Brazil and the joint bid from Belgium/Netherlands/Germany. We also look at the bid book for the joint bid from the United States and Mexico, which announced last week that they were withdrawing from the process for 2027 to focus on the 2031 effort instead (see: The Week in Women's Football: A-League crowds better AFL; ex-Juventus coach Montemurro returns for Allstars; Canberra Utd boost - Tribal Football). After the detail on each bid, we will provide an opinion on the chances of success for each effort.

Each book is divided into five major sections and then subsections within most, as follows:

A. Event Vision and Key Metrics

  1. Vision and Strategy
  2. Women's football: Development and Legacy
  3. Local Promotion
  4. General Information: Brazil and Host Cities
  5. Event Timing

B. Event Infrastructure

  1. Stadiums
  2. Team and Referee Facilities
  3. IBC Site
  4. Competition-related Event Sites
  5. FIFA Fan Fest Sites

C. Services

  1. Accommodation
  2. Transport
  3. Safety & Security
  4. Health, Medical and Doping County
  5. IT&T

D. Commercial

  1. Revenues and Contributions

E. Sustainability and Human Rights

17. Sustainability and Human Rights


2027 Brazil Bid

The Brazil Bid Book was 147 pages. The ten cities proposed to host the FIFA Women's World Cup 2027 are: Belo Horizonte, Brasília, Cuiabá, Fortaleza, Manaus, Porto Alegre, Recife, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador and São Paulo. (Page 3). Eight cities were recommended for the 2023 bid, with the contingency that they could reduce that to six cities. Eight of the cities were the same as four years ago, with Cuiaba and Fortaleza the new editions this year.

CAPACITY OF PROPOSED STADIUMS (Page 42)

City Stadium Gross Capacity Gross Capacity Proposed*

Belo Horizonte—Estádio Mineirão 66,658 27,653

Brasília—Estádio Mané Garrincha 69,910 44,099

Cuiabá—Arena Pantanal 42,788 26,386

Fortaleza—Arena Castelão 57,876 24,254

Manaus—Arena Amazônia 42,924 26,948

Porto—Alegre Estádio Beira-Rio 49,055 27,754

Recife—Arena de Pernambuco 45,440 22,286

Rio de Janeiro—Estádio do Maracanã 73,139 72,689

Salvador—Arena Fonte Nova 47,915 38,733

São Paulo—Arena Corinthians 47,252 46,156

The dates proposed are June 24-July 25, which is the winter in the Southern Hemisphere (Page 38).

Brazil has recently hosted, on the men's side, the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup, the 2014 FIFA World Cup, the Olympic Games Rio 201, the CONMEBOL Copa America 201 and the FIFA U-17 World Cup 2019, with the Olympics also having women's football. (Page 136).

The intro to the bid report stated: "Our aim is for the FIFA Women's World Cup 2027 to become a springboard and an inspiration for girls and women across the world who are considering a career in football both on and off the pitch. Furthermore, in partnership with our stakeholders, we would like the event to become a platform for raising awareness of issues that are of paramount importance to South Americans, such as economic, social and environmental Sustainability, Social Responsibility and Inclusion, as well as Respect for Diversity." (Page 4)

To make their case for the development of women's football, some recent high marks in the women's game were noted in the report: "In September, the Corinthians club in São Paulo had a sold-out attendance of more than 42,000 people, watching their women's team win the Brazilian championship. The turnout set an all-time continental record for a women's match. The average audience for Brazil's premier women's league in traditional media increased by more than 225% from 2022 to 2023, according to Kantar Ibope, which measures broadcast audiences in the country. The same [market research] institute recorded the results for the official broadcast partner in Brazil of the FIFA Women's World Cup 2023. Although the Brazilian national team's matches were not shown in prime time due to time zone differences [from Australia], the private TV channel recorded a 1,308% increase compared to the average for the 7-10 am slot. Together, the public and private channels reached 49.8 million unique viewers. Brazil's last match [against Jamaica] had the highest TV audience for the time slot in Brazil in 21 years. It's no coincidence that the previous peak had been Brazil's [men's] victory in the 2002 FIFA World Cup hosted by Japan and Korea. The streaming figures are also significant. More than 1 million unique viewers per match were registered on an authorised YouTube channel in Brazil during the last [Women's] World Cup. The latest edition of CONMEBOL Libertadores Feminina, the continental club tournament, also attracted more than 7.3 million viewers in the country on the official streaming partner's platform throughout the competition." (Page 6)

In terms of current football statistics in the country, the report noted: "The CBF's current registration system shows that there are 7,113 active players in organised football. Of these, 537 players are professionals, while 6,576 players are amateurs. The majority of registered players, around 65 per cent (4,609) are adults, and the remaining 35 per cent (2,504) are between the ages of 12 and 18. It's important to note that players under the age of 12 are not registered under Brazilian law. However, it's important to understand that the CBF system does not include the registration of players from smaller clubs taking part in regional competitions organised by affiliated associations. This means that the figures are underestimated, and CBF is currently carrying out a tender process to revamp and integrate its registration system. On the other hand, according to government studies, approximately 840,000 girls and women across the country play football in different forms, such as performance, school/educational and leisure/sport for life. In the field of coaching, there are currently 147 licensed women coaches, distributed between C (98), B (19), A (17) and PRO (13) licenses… As for refereeing, women account for around 20 per cent (131) of CBF referees, with 30 women referees (7 FIFA) and 101 women assistant referees (7 FIFA) officiating matches in the main national competitions." (Pages 17-18)

At the senior level: "In terms of competition, women's football in Brazil is divided into three tiers. The top tier is the Campeonato Brasileiro A1 Feminino, which was established in 2017 as part of the 2014 FWC Legacy Programme. It is competed for by 16 elite clubs over a 7-month calendar. In addition, CBF introduced the Supercopa do Brasil in 2022. The competition is played by 8 clubs at the start of the season and has achieved impressive audience ratings, despite being only two years old. The second-tier competition is the Campeonato Brasileiro A2, which has 16 clubs, 4 of which are promoted and 4 of which are relegated each year. There is also the Campeonato Brasileiro A3, which is a democratic competition introduced in 2022 and contested by 32 teams. These teams qualify from regional competitions organised by the 27 affiliated Federations… In the youth categories, CBF organises four competitions on a regular basis. These are the U-20 and U-17 National Championships, with 20 and 16 teams respectively, and the Development League in the U-16 and U-14 age groups. Each of these competitions is played by eight teams. By 2024, the CBF plans to organise 54 new regional competitions in the U-15 and U-17 categories. The aim behind this initiative is to strengthen the base of the competitive pyramid and offer opportunities to thousands of young players across the country. FIFA and the regional associations will cooperate closely with the CBF to make this a successful initiative." (Page 18)

For the financials projections, the Grand Total Quantity of Tickets assumed sold during the tournament was 1,701,847, accounting for revenue of US$57,417,871. Hospitality revenues would be US$29,533,443. Other revenue sources comprised a total of US$10,000,000 from four levels of national supports/sponsors, US$1,489,116 from Merchandising and US$1,531,662 for Food and Beverage concessions, for a grand total of revenues at US$ 99,972,092. As in 2023, there would be no government investment for the tournament.

Interestingly there were no expense figures included in the 2027 Bid Book. Looking back at the 2023 Bid Book is helpful as a benchmark (see our column from January 2020: https://www.tribalfootball.com/articles/the-week-in-women-s-football-breaking-down-the-2023-women-s-world-cup-bids-4312051). For the 2023 tournament, which the Brazil Football Association withdrew from just weeks before the decision was made, the total revenues estimated were US$70,693,990.

For the expenditures, for 2023, they were estimated as follows:

2020 US$ 1,503,000

2021 US$ 8,796,000

2022 US$12,129,000

2023 US$44,323,000

Total US$66,751,000

Net profit after the 2023 tournament was projected to be US$3,942,990.

So, for 2024, we took the multiplier between the revenue estimates of US$70 million in 2023 and US$99 million for 2027 and applied it to 2023 expense line of US$66,751,000: we calculated an expenditures estimate of US$93,451,400 or about US$6.5 Million ($6,520,692) in profits, almost a 40% increase that which was assumed for 2023, but still quite low overall.


Opinion

Brazil's bid is expected to be profitable with 10 venues, up from 8 proposed in 2023, which would help promote the sport throughout the vast country and in the region—but the profitability is low at only US$6.5 Million. Brazil is a fantastic country and I have traveled much of it over the years for work and vacations, with great people, tremendous cuisine and arguably the most fanatical football culture in the world. Train travel is not viable in most of the country and fans and teams would have to fly to all the cities, which are spread across the country from the far north to the south, as we saw in 2014 with the men's Finals. It all comes down to whether FIFA will go with the development path and take the Women's Finals to South America for the first time and take a bit of a financial risk and lower profits compared with the UEFA bid, or follows the money and go to Northern Europe—both are good choices and the event will be well presented with either choice.


2023 UEFA Northern Europe Bid—Belgium/Netherlands/Germany

The Bid Book for Netherlands/Belgium/German was 125 pages.

Venues

BNG2027 Stadium City Capacity

Belgium

KAA Gent Arena, Ghent 20,185 seats

KRC Genk Arena, Genk 20,040 seats

RSC Anderlecht Stadium, Brussels 20,144 seats

ZebrArena Charleroi, Charleroi 20,219 seats

Netherlands

Abe Lenstra Stadium, Heerenveen 26,742 seats

FC Twente Stadium, Enschede 30,250 seats

Johan Cruijff ArenA, Amsterdam 55,445 seats

PSV Stadium, Eindhoven 35,200 seats

Stadium Feijenoord, Rotterdam 49,850 seats

German

Arena AufSchalke, Gelsenkirchen 54,442 seats

BVB Stadion Dortmund, Dortmund 66,099 seats

Cologne Stadium, Cologne 45,987 seats

Düsseldorf Arena, Düsseldorf 50,040 seats

The preferred dates for the tournament would be June 18 to July 18. (Page 64)

The report identifies the vision for the tournament under the tagline Breaking New Ground for the FIFA Women's World Cup: "For this 10th edition, we will celebrate the unique and attractive tournament it has become, while also showing just how much it can still achieve. Using experience and innovation, we will take this iconic tournament to the next level and will develop new solutions that will support the future success of the event, no matter where in the world it goes next. The FIFA Women's World Cup 2027 will be:

• A fan-focused tournament: Our compact tournament and our existing diverse fan-culture around women's football will create a unique experience for a global fanbase.

• A commercially attractive tournament: Women's football has proven its commercial success in our countries. Together with our partners we will set new standards by hosting the most commercially successful women's tournament ever. • A sustainable tournament: Our experience in sustainability, innovation and technology will come together to deliver solutions that can be replicated around the world – a true and lasting legacy for football." (Page 6)

Some of their suggestions to implement this vision are described as: "Working closely with FIFA, the host cities and local partners, BNG2027 will develop and implement smart new ideas that can be used for future women's tournaments wherever they may be hosted. Imagine a tournament…

• Where every fan has their own 24/7 available Personal Coach in their pocket – an AI-based personalised application that enhances each person's on-site experience.

• Where the uniqueness of women's football culture is celebrated with United World Cup Walks where fans come together in a sustainable, healthy and fun way to walk to the stadium.

• Where the compact nature of the tournament is utilised to create centralised, eco-friendly new Fan Base Camps where fans from all over the world can be accommodated – creating vibrant, dynamic communities.

• Where the short distances and modern transport infrastructure allows for the development of Fan Game Day Passes, allowing fans to take in multiple matches in different venues in the same day [as in Qatar 2022].

• Where young fans from around the world play an active part in making the tournament more sustainable through their participation in the Global Youth Innovation Challenge." (Page 7)

Regarding the anticipated impact of the women's game in the three nations, the Bid Book details their goals:

"Belgium – 10 per cent increase in female players every year until 2027. Tactics:

• Providing free activities for schools.

• Hosting foot festivals together with the regional associations.

• Supporting clubs to actively recruit girls and women.

• Developing a plan to increase the visibility and awareness of women's football.

The Netherlands – 15 per cent increase to 155,000 female players in four years. Tactics:

• Enhancing the early participation opportunities for girls.

• Providing equal opportunities by actively promoting inclusivity and diversity within football clubs.

• Investigate potential participation growth areas to bind more girls and women to football.

• Emphasise and actively deploy the strength of the social profile and accessibility of women's football.

Germany – 25 per cent increase in female participation, referees and coaches by 2027. Tactics:

• Developing and implementing dedicated strategic plans together with the German regional associations.

• Expanding the Girls' Football Day so that every third club hosts it annually.

• Establishing girls' football teams in all schools across the country." (page 9)

The Financial Information presented was fairly ambiguous and general. One interesting point was the strong opportunity for sponsorships across all three markets, which are quite established: "Currently, more than 15 per cent of all global sports sponsorship spending is done by companies from Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany. And this continues to rise." (Page 114).

The Bid Book also said that, with the venues being quite compact and close to other cities via car and train: "Fans will have more time and money to spend on attending football matches, whether they have travelled from Europe or from further abroad. In addition, this will enable huge cost savings for FIFA." (Page 114) It would be nice to see some backup statistics for that claim.

The organizers estimate that they would have: "an expected average match attendance of 88 per cent and 2.2 to 2.5 million tickets sold… [with ticket prices]: ranging from 21 USD (20 EUR) for a category 3 ticket in the group phase to 133 USD (125 EUR) for a category 1 ticket in the final." (Page 115)

Unlike in Brazil, the three nations' governments will contribute funding for the event and they will apply for European Union funding as well. About as precise as they document on the financials is the statement: "Every year, our three associations already invest over 50 million USD in the organisation and development of women's football. This is set to increase in the leadup to 2027 to support the further growth of the women's game. Additionally, if awarded the tournament, another 1 million USD per FA will be invested over the coming years to support the organisation and promotion of the FIFA Women's World Cup 2027." (Page 116)

Oddly, there were no specific projections on revenues or expenses—is it because it is not important? As a reference, France spent Euros 94 million (US$101 million) on the organization and infrastructure of the 2019 games for a 24 team tournament, which now involves 32 teams. For Australia/New Zealand 2023, FIFA President Gianni Infantino said that last summer's Finals generated more than US$570 million in revenue and FIFA broke even on the tournament, explaining: "Actually, this World Cup [2023 WWC] generated over 570 million U.S. dollars in revenues, and so we broke even. We didn't lose any money and we generated the second highest income of any sport, besides of course the men's World Cup, at a global stage." Prior to the award of the tournament, the FIFA bid evaluation report estimated the cost of running the tournament as AU$150 million (US$100 million), with AU$100 million (US$66 million) coming from government entities. Again, more detail on specific event finances to separate from blended revenues and expenses with men's events would help fine tune estimates but that number does give one pause as to how important this decision is. FIFA also has taken over running these major tournaments with more of their staff, rather than the host nations' local organizing committee staff or from the local Football Association.


Opinion

We don't have the specific revenue and expense information to compare this bid to Brazil's but we have to assume that revenues and profits would be much greater than Brazil's 6.5 million profit, even considering that it would be shared across the three nations. It is appealing to have a Women's World Cup that one can drive or train between venues, as in Germany 2011 and France 2019. With England winning the 2022 Women's EURO and Spain's WWC win in 2023 and the UEFA Women's Nations League this year, fans from these nations and others in Europe can easily travel to this Northern European tournament and should arrive in large numbers, while also drawing in more fans and interest from Eastern Europe, as well as visitors from other regions (North Africa, West Asia and North America) for the global event.

The crucial decision here—besides the investment and projected profits vis-à-vis Brazil—is whether FIFA is essentially setting up the pattern that every other WWC is based in Europe. That's fine, but after 1999 and 2003 in the U.S. (CONCACAF), 2007 in China (AFC), 2011 in Germany, 2015 in Canada (CONCACAF), 2019 in France and 2023 in Australia/New Zealand (AFC/Oceania) and the U.S./Mexico bid for CONCACAF the front-runner for 2031 (see below), does that mean that it won't be until 2035 that we could have an Asian, South American or African tournament, with 2039 bound for Europe again? It does shortchange these other Confederations' hosting opportunities in particular if that indeed becomes the model.

Important Note:

As we neared press time, we received and reviewed the 92 page FIFA Evaluation Report of the two venues, which saw Brazil's bid rated higher than the Belgium/Netherlands/Germany bid. The Report did emphasize that both bids were capable of hosting the tournament at a high level; however, on a 1-5 rating scale, Brazil's Bid effort was rated at 4.0, ahead of the BNG bid at 3.7. The report said: "The Brazil 2027 bid offers good stadiums that are purpose-built and generally configured for the largest international football tournaments, having hosted the 2014 FIFA World Cup. It also presents a strong commercial position, with a combination of competitive revenue potential and clear cost efficiencies. The Brazilian Football Association and the Brazilian government have shown support for the bid and a commitment to hosting the event, which is particularly important given that certain investments in infrastructure and services would be required to ensure the success of the tournament. Lastly, with respect to hosting opportunities, it is worth noting that, if the bid were successful, South America would be hosting the competition for the first time, which could have a tremendous impact on women's football in the region." (Page 6)

For the bid from UEFA, the FIFA Evaluation Report said: "The BNG 2027 bid proposes a compact tournament footprint with very good general infrastructure, including excellent connectivity and short distances between the proposed venues – all of which would be viewed in a positive light by the tournament stakeholders. Together with a solid commercial position and suitable football-specific sporting infrastructure, the bid presents a sound all-round bid. The stadiums proposed have relatively smaller capacities, which would mean that they would need to be at high occupancy if they were to eclipse the attendance records set for the 2023 edition of the tournament, though the bid is confident in achieving this with the ambitious plan it has put in place. It is important to highlight that while the bidder, their respective governments and other stakeholders have all shown clear and demonstrable support for the bid to host the FIFA Women's World Cup, a number of material changes were made to the hosting documentation, which would result in a more complex legal framework as the point of departure for planning the tournament if the bid were successful." (Page 5).

FIFA's 211 members will vote on the decision on May 17 at the FIFA Congress in Bangkok and the members are under no obligation to follow the recommendations presented in the Bids Evaluation Report. The two way vote could be very close indeed and Brazil might be able to spring the upset over UEFA and bring the premier women's football event to the continent for the first time. We will update the readers in this column after the vote is concluded and the decision confirmed.


U.S./Mexico Bid

The U.S./Mexico Bid Book for 2027 was 259 pages.

For the Hosting Strategy [which is not relevant now that the two football associations will look at preparing a 2031 bid, which could revise these plans, but is still edifying]: "We are in the midst of the most consequential era in the history of women's football with attendance, viewership and revenue records rising to unprecedented levels. Across the globe, the women's game is growing exponentially, and it is expected that excitement will reach even greater heights in 2027. In North America, we are seeing uncharted engagement with our sport as the 2026 FIFA World Cup sits just on the horizon. Now, the United States and Mexico have an opportunity to host the 2027 FIFA Women's World Cup. Opportunities like these are once-in-a-generation and have the potential to transform the game forever, inspiring millions of players, coaches and fans of all ages. For the United 2026 bid, for the first time ever, three countries came together – UNITED, AS ONE – combining our hopes and ambitions, as well as our resources, to host FIFA World Cup 2026, a tournament of 48 teams and 80 matches, with operational certainty and low risk. In 2027, the United States and Mexico are in a unique position to host a FIFA Women's World Cup that will leverage the efficiencies of hosting the Men's World Cup just a year prior. Additionally, the commercial opportunities present in the United States and Mexico will accelerate the growth of women's football unlike any tournament." (Page 6)

Candidate Host Cities, Stadiums and Capacity

United States

Atlanta—Mercedes-Benz Stadium, 75,000

Boston/Foxborough—Gillette Stadium, 70,000

Dallas/Arlington—AT&T Stadium, 92,967

Houston—NRG Stadium, 72,000

Kansas City—Arrowhead Stadium, 76,640

Los Angeles/Pasadena—Rose Bowl Stadium, 88,432

Miami—Hard Rock Stadium, 64,767

New York/New Jersey—Met Life Stadium, 87,157

Philadelphia—Lincoln Financial Field, 69,238

San Francisco Bay Area—Levi's Stadium, 70,909

Seattle—Lumen Field, 69,000

Mexico

Guadalajara—Estadio Akron, 48,071

Leon—Estadio Leon, 32,000

Mexico City –Estadio Azteca, 83,280

Monterrey—Estadio BBVA, 53,460

Querétaro—Estadio Corregidora, 34,130 (Pages 16, 19)

The U.S. WWC proposed sites were the exact same 11 as for the 2026 men's World Cup, with the exception that in Los Angeles, the Rose Bowl replaced SoFi Stadium in suburban Inglewood, that will be used in 2026. For Mexico, Leon and Queretaro were added to the three largest cities in the country for 2026, which also includes Toronto and Vancouver in Canada. We would expect for 2031, that other cities such as Charlotte, North Carolina, Chicago, Columbus or Cincinnati in Ohio, Detroit, Nashville, Orlando, Phoenix, Portland, Oregon (which was a fantastic host for the 2024 Women's World Cup and has drawn tremendous crowds for the NWSL Thorns for many years) St. Louis and Washington D.C. might be able to bid to host games.

On the 2027 financials for the U.S. and Mexico, the bid details: "Ticket Revenues: We plan on hosting all matches at best-in-class, high-class venues. Given the growth of women's football in North America and the energy resulting from the 2026 FIFA World Cup hosted by Canada, Mexico and the United States, we expect average match attendance across the entire event to exceed 70,000. Additionally, the popularity of the game in North America demands a premium on average ticket price. Hospitality: The best-in-class venues can offer excellent hospitality packages for fans looking for an enhanced experience.

Additionally, given the high volume of major global corporations in North America, we expect premium hospitality packages to be in high demand. Broadcast Rights: Broadcast rights are a major revenue driver for all FIFA World Cup and FIFA Women's World Cup events. A North America-hosted event enables some of the world's historically top teams to be placed directly into primetime slots for either the major North American market, or select European markets. As a result, we expect viewership to set its own respective records. Additionally, the North American broadcast rights market is among the most lucrative, creating even greater opportunity for commercial success.

Marketing and Licensing: The 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup was projected to generate over USD $300 million is marketing and licensing revenue, almost double [albeit for a tournament involving more games and eight more teams] what was recorded for the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup [in France]. Given the expected increase in the spectacle of a 2027 event hosted by the United States and Mexico, the presence of existing FIFA Commercial Partners such as Coca Cola and Visa in North America and the rapid growth of the game, we expect an even larger increase in revenues from marketing and licensing in 2027." The Bid Book adds that there is a: "$3 billion potential revenue opportunity (in USD) of a USA-Mexico hosted 2027 FIFA Women's World Cup." (Page 242)


Opinion

It would be nice to have more detailed information on revenues and expenses, but suffice it to say that the U.S./Mexico bid would dwarf the Brazil bid and exceed the Belgium/Netherlands/Germany bid, particularly on the revenues and profits side. We would expect slight revisions to the Bid Book for 2031, plus the bidding Football Associations will have to arrange updated contracts with hotels, stadiums, and other necessary facilities, but largely these two Associations have a template for their expressed intent to bid in 2031.


Tim Grainey is a contributor to Tribal Football. His latest book Beyond Bend it Like Beckham is on the global game of women's football. Get your copy today.Follow Tim on Twitter: @TimGrainey

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