The Japan Football Association on Thursday confirmed that it has submitted its bid book for the 2023 Women’s World Cup to FIFA as Japan seeks to become the second Asian country to host the tournament following China in 1991 and 2007.
While the final list of bidding nations will not be known until Friday’s deadline, Japan is considered a frontrunner in a field that may include a potential joint Australia-New Zealand bid, a rumored unified Korean bid, Colombia, Argentina and Brazil. South Africa withdrew from the bidding process earlier this week.
Faced with a shrinking field of competitors and a strong promotional blitz from Australia in particular, JFA President Kozo Tashima insisted Thursday that Japan remains focused on the big prize.
“We don’t want to one-up other bids, and we don’t want to compare ourselves to other bids,” Tashima told reporters at the JFA’s headquarters in Tokyo’s Bunkyo Ward. “We’ve submitted a bid that contains the best tournament Japan can run.
“Between next year’s Olympics, the professionalization of the women’s league from 2021 and this Women’s World Cup, we want to give a significant boost to women’s soccer and that is why this bid is so important.
“With Japan’s proven ability to host international tournaments and our spirit of omotenashi (hospitality), we want to put on a Women’s World Cup that will bring joy not only to participating nations but to us as hosts.”
Japan’s bid features eight stadiums, including the recently completed National Stadium and seven soccer-specific venues.
Those sites include the new Kyoto Stadium, which will serve as the home of the J. League’s Kyoto Sanga from 2020, and Rugby World Cup hosts Sapporo Dome, Toyota Stadium and Kobe Misaki Stadium.
Saitama Stadium, another Tokyo Olympic venue, as well as Sendai Stadium and Suita Stadium also made the list.
“FIFA requested a tournament with eight venues, and adding one more would increase costs significantly,” said Tashima. “We’re a small country and can take advantage of our transit system, including the bullet train and air routes. With eight stadiums we can run a smooth tournament and keep our costs down.”
Tashima emphasized Japan’s track record, citing the JFA’s successful hosting of the 2002 World Cup, the 2012 U-20 Women’s World Cup and eight editions of the Club World Cup.
“Our strength is in our ability to cooperate with governments and municipalities, our safety record, and in our ability to submit venues with natural pitches that the world’s top women’s teams can comfortably play on,” he said.
“Our facilities are among the world’s top class and we want to offer women’s teams a chance to compete in that environment and raise the value of the Women’s World Cup so that both the men’s and women’s competitions can be contested at the same high level.”
Noting FIFA’s preference for a July-August tournament, Tashima said that Japan’s bid featured a June start, citing a more agreeable climate and better timing for Europe-based players whose seasons will end in May.
“It’s not good to ask players to rest for two months and then play a World Cup in July,” said Tashima. “With most of the world’s top players in European leagues, we think that holding the tournament in June will help players stay in peak condition.”
According to Tashima, Japan will also offer its knowledge of player development as part of its bid, with seminars and other events to take place during the tournament.
“I think we’ve contributed a lot to the growth of women’s soccer in Asia. (Nadeshiko Japan) won in 2011, and Japan won the U-17 and U-20 Women’s World Cups, and this will be a chance to share our development know-how with the rest of the world,” he said.
“Our men’s team hasn’t won the World Cup, but our women have and we want to share our experience.”
The JFA also published its list of 32 prospective training sites, most of which are located in or near host cities, and 43 sites earmarked as base camps for teams and referees.