Why Australia should host the 2023 Women’s Football World Cup

David Holden Roar Guru

By , David Holden is a Roar Guru

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    In June the federal government committed some modest funding to support Football Federation Australia’s bid for the Women’s World Cup in 2023. Based on the success of the Matildas on and off the field over the past few months, the FFA and the government should now be doing all it can to host that tournament.

    On the field the Matildas have achieved some phenomenal success. Just short of two months ago the seventh-ranked Matildas took on the eighth-ranked Brazil, the sixth-ranked Japanese team and world number one USA in the Tournament of Nations in the US. To win the tournament, highlighted by their first-ever win against the USA and a 6-1 win over Brazil, heralded the arrival of a new power in women’s soccer.

    The past week has proved even more astounding. The two wins against Brazil in Penrith and Newcastle drew crowds of 15,000 and almost 17,000 respectively, showing that this team has a strong local following. The two games in Victoria against China in late November, part of their lead up into the 2018 Asian Cup, are likely to draw in excess of 20,000 people each.

    This is a young team. They are only going to get better. With almost all of the squad in their 20s and most in their early 20s, most will be in their prime by 2023. Perhaps only Lisa de Vanna will no longer be in the game at that point, although a World Cup at home would surely be a fitting end to her wonderful career.

    (Image: Zak Kaczmarek/Getty Images)

    The team is also blessed with star power. Sam Kerr is just that. She has been in the national set-up for a number of years but is only 24. She’s currently the leading goalscorer in the world-leading National Women’s Soccer League in the USA and is regularly on the scoresheet for the Matildas. With her trademark backflip, young girls idolise her. And that’s the point.

    Female sport in Australia is growing significantly at the representative level. While netball remains dominant – and for good reason, with the success of the national competition and the Diamonds – there are other pathways opening up. The success of the WBBL and the AFL Women’s competition is increasing grassroots participation in those sports, while the gold medal-winning women’s sevens team is introducing girls to rugby or, at least, Oztag.

    While football has arguably been the second largest team sport for women’s sport behind netball for some time, the Matildas brand is only going to increase female participation.

    The cost of hosting the cup here would be only a small fraction of the cost to host a men’s World Cup, as existing stadiums in Australia should be sufficient. While Australia wouldn’t expect to host a million spectators like Canada achieved in 2015, the global TV audience of more than 760 million could be replicated. The federal government will have taken notice of that.

    So it’s a no-brainer, really. A successful young team, large levels of support, increasing participation at grassroots level and large global exposure. There is time. Final bids are due late 2018 and the decision is expected sometime in 2019. We now leave it up to the FFA and the federal government to make it happen.