The murky road ahead for Australia's 2023 Women's FIFA World Cup bid

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull with Matildas Kyah Simon, Michelle Heyman and Clare Polkinghorne at Parliament House on Tuesday. Picture: Andrew Meares
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull with Matildas Kyah Simon, Michelle Heyman and Clare Polkinghorne at Parliament House on Tuesday. Picture: Andrew Meares

Will it be enough to simply be the best? Australia is about to find out as it bids for the 2023 Women's World Cup, a two-year journey down the winding, murky road of international football politics.

"We are recognised internationally for our sporting achievements and for showcasing some of the biggest sporting events in the world and when we do, we do it triumphantly, we do it successfully, we do it to great acclaim," Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said at Tuesday's bid launch in Canberra.

Australia became the first country to gain government support - up to $5 million - for the bid. It is understood to be joined by Colombia and Japan as bidding nations, with suggestions New Zealand, South Korea and Thailand could follow, meaning Australia won't have regional support.

Whether it's the Asian Cup or Olympics, Australia is a proven host of major football events, but it's not yet a great diplomat.

As seen in the bidding process of the 2022 World Cup, Australia doesn't hold much power within the top echelons of FIFA.

That changed slightly with the election of former international Matildas player Moya Dodd to the FIFA executive committee in 2013, before she lost her seat last month.

Dodd is well-respected within Asian and world football. She was able to provide a voice for female footballers, Asians and Australians within the most powerful room in world football where the vote will take place in 2019 for the hosting rights of the 2023 Women's World Cup. In her absence, Australia may have lost a competitive advantage to the other bidding nations.

"It was hugely disappointing for Moya to be unsuccessful and because of her contribution to women's football and football generally we certainly anticipate being able to tap into her knowledge in the months ahead," FFA chief executive David Gallop said. 

Colombia confirmed their intention to host the Cup, and launched their national women's league this year as a requirement for a bid that is spearheaded by their association's president and FIFA ExCo member Ramon Jesurun. Similarly, Japan's bid is lead by FIFA executive committee member Khozo Tashima. Potential bidders South Korea are represented at executive committee level by Mong Gyu Chung while New Zealand is represented via the Cook Islands with Lee Harmon.

Australia's pitch hinges on the legacies of a successful tournament, infrastructure, the strength of the women's national team the Matildas, the rising influence of Australians in women's football, including Dodd, Jo Setright on the FIFA disciplinary council and referee Tammy Ogston who became the first Australian to officiate in a World Cup final.

However, merit alone seems unlikely to win the bid. Colombia is a rising force in women's football, is within the lucrative US time zone and it would mark the first tournament held in South America.

Japan has outperformed Australia on the field, is a bigger market within the Asian time zone and is hosting the Olympics three years earlier.

Australia's women have shown they can play, but our politicians are facing a whole new ball game.