Following FIFA awarding the World Cup hosting rights to Qatar, it is highly unlikely that Australia will get to host the premier sporting event in the near future. In fact, Australia may never host a World Cup.
FIFA’s continental rotation rules, the tendency to host the event in Europe every 8-12 years, and the rise of nations such as India and China are all factors that will most likely rule Australia out of contention for many years to come.
But while the men’s tournament is probably out of reach, the Women’s World Cup certainly isn’t.
The Matildas, as most football fans will know, are generally more successful than the Socceroos on an international stage. They are currently ranked tenth in the world and have only missed out on qualifying for the Women’s World Cup once and have reached the quarter-finals of that competition twice.
In 2010, they were crowned Asian Champions, a feat that still eludes the Socceroos. After his side’s group match against Australia at the last Women’s World Cup, Brazil manager Kleiton Lima went so far as to say that the Matildas were serious contenders to win a World Cup in the near future.
The W-League in Australia is running strongly, with ABC’s Live Match of the Week every Saturday afternoon often drawing higher ratings than many A-League games on Foxtel. Interest in women’s football, and Australian football in general, would only increase if we won hosting rights for a World Cup.
In Germany, matches averaged attendances of over 25, 000. Who’s to say Australia wouldn’t match this? A tournament of this scale would hugely boost the W-League’s profile, and make it a better attended and better watched competition.
The next Women’s World Cup is in Canada, in 2015, and so the 2019 edition would be a logical edition for the FFA to bid for. Our chances of winning the hosting rights are arguably much better than our ill-fated attempt for the 2022 Men’s Cup.
Thus far, Middle Eastern nations, with barrels of petrodollars to spend, have shown absolutely no interest in bidding for a women’s tournament. The USA has hosted the Cup twice already, and so any bid for the 2019 edition would probably be off the agenda.
Instead, media reports point to possible bids from South Africa, Poland and Japan. Japan, already favourites, have been sounded out by Sepp Blatter, but their bid could be derailed by their already confirmed hosting of the Rugby World Cup in the same year. Our bid would by no means be an assured success, but if the FFA begins planning now we could have a serious chance.
The key is to ensure that the FFA doesn’t take their eye off the A-League (as they were accused of doing for our 2022 bid), however a bid for the Women’s event would most likely be less intensive than for the men’s edition anyway.
If the FFA can find a balance and still maintain focus on domestic football in Australia, then a Women’s World Cup bid could potentially be a huge boost to women’s football and football generally in Australia.