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Football World Cup 2027: DFB wants women to “think big”, USA and Mexico are attracting FIFA

With the “FF 27” program, the DFB, led by Secretary General Heike Ullrich (l.), President Bernd Neuendorf (m.) and strategy chief Doris Fitschen, wants to promote female footballers.

Photo: imago/Joaquim Ferreira

German women’s football can really use any boost right now. Nevertheless, Bernd Neuendorf, President of the German Football Association (DFB), was initially unable to drum loudly when an important milestone was set last week for the joint bid with Belgium and the Netherlands for the 2027 World Cup. The five-day inspection trip by a high-ranking delegation from the world association was expressly planned without media exposure, although FIFA wants to take this tournament to new dimensions.

DFB General Secretary Heike Ullrich had already said when the so-called bid book was submitted at the beginning of December that the requirements were “absolutely at the level of a men’s World Cup – and that’s a good thing.” Germany signed 89 contracts with far-reaching guarantees and assurances because: “They think big in all areas.”

From last Monday to Friday, the eleven-member Fifa delegation with a lot of specialist staff and high-ranking officials from the German, Belgian and Dutch associations got a detailed picture of the venues, training and fan opportunities, transport and accommodation in the border triangle. The stadium and football museum were visited in Dortmund, then we went to the arenas in Düsseldorf, Brussels and Eindhoven. Holland’s association, as the initiator of the application, led through its campus in Zeist and through the arena in Amsterdam.

Dortmund, Düsseldorf, Gelsenkirchen and Cologne have been named as German venues, but similar to the 2023 Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, FIFA will probably ultimately reduce the number of venues to ten. A German city could still slip through the shaking sieve.

According to Ullrich, since South Africa withdrew its application, there has been a lack of a “very, very strong competitor” who was given the greatest chances for sports policy reasons. The Europeans are now voting against Brazil and the double application from the USA and Mexico at the FIFA Congress on May 17th in Bangkok. It is clear that the votes cast by delegates from Africa and Asia tip the scales. The inspection tours in Brazil as well as the USA and Mexico are still pending. Overall, the global association relies on a transparent award process. The application dossiers have been made public, and the same should happen with the evaluation reports.

“The goal is a local tournament with global impact,” said Neuendorf in a statement with his counterparts Pascale Van Damme from Belgium and the Dutchman Just Spee Netherlands. “We have to be so good that the FIFA family can’t ignore us,” says Patrick Kisko, who is responsible for the application process. The DFB department head, who was already involved in the 2011 Women’s World Cup, is promoting a tournament that will be hospitable for players and fans, safe and, above all, more compact than ever before. The radius between the venues is only 150 kilometers, making air travel unnecessary and teams and fans can live in one place. The tournament would thus provide an environmentally conscious counterpoint: As with the last Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, huge distances will have to be bridged by plane at the Men’s World Cup in 2026 in the USA, Canada and Mexico. Brazil, the USA and Mexico would have the same problem again in 2027.

But the aspect of sustainability is only one. Another is finances. The offer from the USA and Mexico promises proceeds of three billion US dollars. This would be possible thanks to the rapid growth of women’s football, write the organizers. For comparison: At the 2023 World Cup, profit was reached for the first time with record revenues of $570 million, to the great delight of Fifa boss Gianni Infantino. The European application also emphasizes the commercial potential through the sale of media rights and tickets or sponsorship. But with the best will in the world, you cannot and will not promise three billion dollars in revenue.

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