Views expressed in opinion columns are the author’s own.
Four years have passed since the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team emphatically won the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France, which means the team will soon look to defend its back-to-back titles at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
Whether it’s last-minute heroics, larger-than-life matchups or controversial celebrations, the USWNT always puts on a show at the Women’s World Cup — and it has never finished lower than third place at the tournament. Because of this, American fans — including myself — can’t get enough of this beloved team.
Consequently, the United States’ recently-announced bid to co-host the 2027 FIFA Women’s World Cup with Mexico immediately brought excitement to both nations. With both countries already having the trust of FIFA to co-host the 2026 FIFA Men’s World Cup, keeping the same duo for the Women’s World Cup the following year might seem like an easy choice for FIFA.
However, the U.S. has already hosted the tournament twice. Given FIFA’s mission to develop the game around the world, allowing the U.S. to host the tournament for the third time in 10 editions would be hypocritical. As such, for future generations of women’s soccer players, the 2027 FIFA Women’s World Cup should not be hosted by the U.S.
The three other confirmed bids — Brazil, South Africa and a co-hosting trio of Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany — all possess the infrastructure necessary to host the tournament, just without the established women’s soccer culture of the U.S. Essentially, there is an opportunity to continue the unprecedented growth of women’s soccer in these other nations that can likely only be realized by hosting women’s soccer’s premier event.
This growth can be seen through the smashing of attendance and viewership records and through the increased popularity of many women’s soccer players. While historic equal pay agreements helped spur the sport’s development, this growth has also come simply through riveting matches in big tournaments — especially at home.
The U.S. has gained from this opportunity several times by hosting the FIFA Women’s World Cup twice and the 1996 Summer Olympics women’s soccer tournament. Likewise, Germany hosted the 2011 Women’s World Cup and two Women’s European Championships, with the Netherlands also having hosted the Women’s European Championship in 2017. Consequently, if FIFA wants to grow the game in areas that have yet to have this spotlight, they should grant South Africa or Brazil hosting rights for the 2027 Women’s World Cup.
South Africa and Brazil both have experience when it comes to hosting FIFA events; they have each hosted a Men’s World Cup, in 2010 and 2014, respectively. Furthermore, Brazil hosted the 2016 Summer Olympics and has the specific experience of hosting a major women’s soccer tournament with large attendance figures. Evidently, the demand for soccer tournaments is already present in both nations.
Many critics will cite the potential for cost overruns as a reason for nations — particularly those that are less affluent — to avoid hosting large sporting events. However, the FIFA Women’s World Cup should not be equated with the FIFA Men’s World Cup or the Summer Olympics, as it is much smaller in both reach and scope.
While this disparity is unfortunately a product of the historical underinvestment in women’s sports, it does mean a smaller economic burden for Women’s World Cup hosts. As such, there is less of an imperative for FIFA to choose a host country that it believes can materially and culturally support the tournament — if that ever was a requirement.
Regardless, just like the U.S. and European nations, South Africa and Brazil have the stadium and tourist infrastructure from their prior World Cup host experiences. The potential for burgeoning costs or corrupt construction deals is severely reduced by potentially using pre-existing stadiums for the Women’s World Cup. By utilizing existing infrastructure, the host country is more likely to make a sizable profit after hosting the women’s tournament in comparison to the men’s, as previous hosts Canada and France did, and as the Australia-New Zealand co-hosts are primed to do this summer.
Finally, the U.S. already has big events coming up. The U.S. will co-host the 2026 Men’s World Cup with Canada and Mexico, and will also host the 2028 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. Hosting another event in between the world’s two largest sporting events opens the opportunity for the Women’s World Cup to be disregarded or overlooked by Americans.
Brazil and South Africa have the opportunity to turn the 2027 Women’s World Cup into an absolute spectacle of athleticism and gender equality in a way that the U.S. can’t.
Perennial World Cup hosts will not advance the global game of women’s soccer in the long term. In order to have highly attended and fiercely competitive Women’s World Cups for future generations, FIFA should look past the U.S. and Europe and towards Brazil and South Africa.
Anthony Liberatori is a senior environmental science and economics major. He can be reached at email@example.com.