ZURICH — The Australia and New Zealand joint bid was the highest rated by FIFA on Wednesday of three candidates to host the 2023 Women's World Cup.
FIFA said Australia-New Zealand scored 4.1 points from a maximum five in evaluating its project plan for the first 32-team women's tournament.
Japan scored 3.9 and Colombia trailed with 2.8, though still qualifies for consideration by FIFA's ruling council which picks the winner on June 25. Each of the 37-member panel's votes will be made public.
FIFA rated the Australia-New Zealand bid the "most commercially favorable."
It also offered a rare example of "unity and cooperation" across continental bodies. Australia is an Asian Football Confederation member and New Zealand is from the Oceania group. The complexity of cross-border working was also noted.
Japan's experience hosting big events was praised, though it prefers to host in the cooler weather of June-July instead of FIFA's preferred July-August dates.
Colombia met FIFA's minimum requirements but the plan needs "significant amount of investment and support" with just three years to prepare.
The winner will follow France which hosted a 24-nation tournament in 2019 won by the United States.