June 12, 2017

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) Australia is set to enter the bidding for the 2023 Women's World Cup, with the government committing to fund the campaign despite a heavy backlash from a failed push for the 2022 World Cup that eventually went to Qatar.

''This is the largest, most prestigious and most competitive contest in a women's sport globally,'' Football Federation Australia chairman Steven Lowy told a news conference Tuesday at Parliament House. ''We want to win the right to host it and then win the tournament itself.''

Lowy said the most recent Women's World Cup, in Canada in 2015, generated a total match attendance of 1.35 million spectators and a global television audience of 764 million.

''The benefits to Australia are many and varied with major economic impact to the wider community and, most importantly, a massive increase in exposure and investment in women's football,'' he said.

The government plans to commit $5 million Australian dollars ($3.75 million) to the bid if Australia is considered by FIFA to be a reasonable contender, including an initial $1 million Australian dollar ($750,000) grant to kick off the process.

A successful bid would make Australia the first southern hemisphere country to host the event. The Australian women's team, the Matildas, is No. 8 in the world rankings.

The United States has won three of the seven Women's World Cups to date, including the first in 1991 and the most recent in 2015, with a 5-2 win over 2011 champion Japan.

China and the United States have hosted the tournament twice, along with Sweden (1995) and Germany (2011). The next edition will be staged in France in 2019. Formal bidding for the 2023 edition is yet to open.

Australia's investment in a bid for the 2022 World Cup and the voting process itself was heavily criticized by the Australian public. Qatar won the rights through that 2010 selection process, which also included bids from the United States, Japan and South Korea.

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