There will be 16 teams taking part in the FIFA Women's World Cup Germany 2011. At an Executive Committee meeting in Zurich on Friday, FIFA reached the decision to keep the same number of countries as have been competing since the FIFA Women's World Cup USA 1999. At the two competitions prior to that, in China in 1991 and Sweden in 1995, 12 teams fought it out for the title.
The executive of world football's governing body stated that they were very pleased with the positive development of women's football to date, but that as things stand, increasing the number of participating teams to 24 would be detrimental to the high level of play and not conducive to improving the public image of women's football. Furthermore, the idea of having 20 teams taking part, which had been discussed, was impossible to implement in terms of fixture planning and logistics.
"We also believe that the decline in performance with 24 teams at a World Cup would be too great," said Steffi Jones, President of the OC of the FIFA World Cup 2011, with regard to the decision. "We want to have a World Cup in Germany that is full of atmosphere and excitement so that it makes a real contribution to further increasing the significance of women's football, not just in this country but on a global level. I'm convinced that after the 2011 World Cup, we will have more discussions about increasing the field of participating teams. The 2011 World Cup will help women's football take another significant step forward in its development."
"What we now have to do with the 32 games that will be required for a 16-team tournament is devise a fixture list that is regionally balanced and at the same time can guarantee a sensible financial commitment for each venue," said DFB President Dr Theo Zwanziger regarding the selection of host cities. "Three to four games per venue seems to be fair. I think that we will be able to present our World Cup venues by autumn this year."
"I'm really looking forward to facing the best teams in the world in front of our home crowd in 2011," said German coach Silvia Neid, focusing on the sporting aspect. "The fans should be happy; they will be seeing some absolutely fantastic, top class football."