‘Matter of when not whether’ UK hosts Women’s World Cup – sports minister

Sports minister Stuart Andrew says “it is a matter of when not whether” the UK will submit a bid to host the Women’s World Cup.

The 2023 World Cup is currently being co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand and FIFA is scheduled to announce the hosts for the 2027 finals in May next year.

Andrew told the PA news agency: “I would really be looking forward to the day when we can host a World Cup. It’s a matter of when not whether.”

England hosted Euro 2022 which saw the Lionesses crowned champions

England hosted Euro 2022 which saw the Lionesses crowned champions (Danny Lawson/PA)

Four bids remain in the race to host the 2027 World Cup – a joint bid from Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium, a second joint bid from the USA and Mexico, plus separate bids from South Africa and Brazil.

When asked if the UK is considering to apply to host the tournament finals in 2031, Andrew said: “We’ll have to wait and see.

“We’ve got a lot of bids in for a lot of events at the moment. The thing I think that makes us a really good country at hosting these is we know that when we’ve got them we’ll do it right.

“The perfect timing is just as important as actually securing the bid. So that will be part of our considerations.”

England hosted a successful Euro 2022 last summer when the Lionesses captured the hearts of a nation by winning their first major trophy.

“I think we’ve got a great reputation of holding major events,” said Andrew in Sydney, where he is currently following the Lionesses.

“I’m open to thinking about all these sorts of things. What I’ve seen here is amazing. We obviously think about these things in the spending rounds, we’ll have to give that consideration.

“But of course it will be something that we would give careful consideration to.”

Following the Lionesses’ Euro 2022 triumph, the squad wrote an open letter to the government urging them to ensure “every young girl” can play football at school.

The government announced in March plans to invest £600million so that girls and boys in English schools will have equal access to sports.

Andrew said one of his “key jobs” was to work closely with the Department of Education “because making sure that sport and physical activity is available to everyone is really important”.

The government pledged £600million in March to ensure every girl has access to school football

The government pledged £600million in March to ensure every girl has access to school football (Mike Egerton/PA)

“Schools have an amazing role to play in that,” he said. “That’s why we’ve given the £600m, secured that for the next two years, that’s going to be really important. As we go forward we want to ensure that we’re delivering the best sport and PE.

“We’re announcing the school sports strategy that’s coming out and then we’ll have our own sports strategy as well. All of this is government working closely together with stakeholders and with other departments to ensure that we’ve got the best facilities for everybody who wants to be active.”

Andrew, openly gay, wore a OneLove armband at the men’s World Cup finals last winter in Qatar, but had no misgivings that it was not available at the women’s tournament in Australia and New Zealand.

“Here this is, you know, a different situation,” he said. “Australia has great legislation and laws for protection of the LGBT+ community.

“And I think what we need to do is continue that journey that is happening, so that actually all sport is open and inclusive for everyone because it benefits us all at the end of the day.”

Stuart Andrew, right, wore the OneLove armband during the men's World Cup in Qatar

Stuart Andrew, right, wore the OneLove armband during the men’s World Cup in Qatar (Adam Davy/PA)

Former Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson, a vocal figurehead on issues of diversity and the LGBTQ+ community, has faced criticism following his move to Al-Ettifaq in Saudi Arabia, where being gay is illegal.

Andrew said he would continue in his role as sports minister to ensure British values and human rights were allowed to be expressed on and off the pitch.

He added: “We recognise that sport is independent. It has to be. Government shouldn’t be interfering, but yes, when we have those meetings, when we have those discussions, of course we will raise those issues. We want to ensure everything is being considered.

“I actually did, when I was in Qatar, that gave me a voice. That gave me an opportunity.

“And we have seen some progression. We see a whole host of armbands that are now available, and I think that is a good step forward. Let’s see if we can go all the way now.”

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