It is a debate that has raged in silence for nearly half a century. Who should be recognised as the first ever Australian women’s national team?
Australia and New Zealand have joined forces in a bid to host the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
If the bid is successful, it would be the first time the event has been hosted in the southern hemisphere.
Venues in all six Australian states would be used, with a renovated 75,000-seat stadium at Sydney’s Olympic Park tipped to host the final.
Colombia, Japan, Brazil and Argentina are also in the running to win the hosting rights.
Football Federation Australia chairman Chris Nikou said the track record of Australia and New Zealand successfully hosting major events – including co-hosting the 2015 Cricket World Cup – would play into the countries’ hands.
He did not expect Australia’s disastrous bid to host the men’s 2022 FIFA World Cup to have an adverse effect in its pursuit of the women’s tournament, declaring the latter a “totally different proposition” because of greater transparency around the bidding and voting systems.
All the official bid books will be made public by FIFA on Friday night.
“I think there will be a great level of comfort that there’s a very low execution risk here,” Nikou said.
“All the countries at this point could put on an event.
“We just feel we would put on the best event and leave a greater legacy for the sport domestically and internationally.
“That’s one of the messages we want to deliver to FIFA.”
FIFA’s executive committee will vote in May to determine the winning bid.
Matildas star Steph Catley said hosting the World Cup would be a huge boost for women’s football in Australia and New Zealand.
“I know specifically in Australia it’s come a long way and there are so many little girls out there that are aspiring to be in the Matildas now because we’re more easy to access and they can see us on TV and come and watch us playing in Australia,” Catley said.
“For them to see us playing at a World Cup and to see their international heroes as well playing here in Australia and New Zealand would be incredible.
“It would grow the game so much faster.”
Australia were knocked out of the 2019 World Cup in France at the Round of 16 stage, losing in a heartbreaking penalty shootout to Norway.
Catley said the Matildas, who won the Asian Cup in 2010, could “absolutely” win a World Cup on home soil.
“We were pretty disappointed with where we finished in the last World Cup and I think we’re only getting stronger,” Catley said.
“Our girls are all playing overseas now and getting more experience.
“By the time 2023 comes around we should be absolutely firing and ready to go.
“Playing here in Australia and New Zealand would only help us.”