Women's Football World Cup 2023: Jacinda Ardern snubbed by England FA in build-up to vote

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was reportedly snubbed by European football bosses in her bid to clinch the rights to co-host the 2023 Women's Football World Cup. 

With the joint bid of New Zealand and Australia competing against Colombia for the rights to host the tournament, Ardern wasn't prepared to take any chances, so she hit the phones to make her case. 

But members refused to take her call, with the Guardian reporting England's Football Association (FA) boss Greg Clarke was among those to turn her down, because the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) encouraged its members to back Colombia.

The decision to back Colombia was a surprise, considering the joint bid from Australia and New Zealand ranked highest in FIFA's technical evaluations with a score of 4.1 out of 5, while Colombia ranked the lowest of the three bids evaluated with 2.9.

Their votes didn't matter in the end, as FIFA chairman Gianni Infantino, and the CAF (Africa) and CONCACAF (North America) delegates voted for the trans-Tasman submission for a 22-13 margin. 

But UEFA has defended its decision, saying it was more important to grow the women's game in South America, compared to Australia and New Zealand, where the game is more developed.

"Even though the Colombian bid was not the one rated highest technically by FIFA, European members of the FIFA Council felt that it represented a strategic opportunity for the development of women's football in South America, thanks to the legacy and increase of attention for the women's game that the tournament would bring to the continent," it explains. 

"It was a choice between two countries - Australia and New Zealand - where women's football is already strongly established, and a continent where it still has to be firmly implanted and has huge development potential.

"It's important to add that European members of the FIFA Council agreed to vote together on major issues as a matter of solidarity."

When contacted by Yahoo Sport, the FA declined to comment on its decision. 

The Guardian claims Clarke and France representative Noel Le Graet were "frustrated" during a meeting with UEFA in the build-up to the vote. 

Newshub has contacted Ardern for comment, while Sports Minister Grant Robertson downplayed the report. 

"I know she made at least one call to the president of FIFA," he says. "I'd have to check if others were made, but if that story is true, maybe that person didn't take any calls and maybe that's how they wanted it." 

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