The ACT Liberals have vowed to put Canberra back in the race for the FIFA 2023 Women’s World Cup, labelling Labor’s move to drop the bid as “disappointing”.
Australia and New Zealand secured their place to host the global event late last week, however the ACT Government had previously withdrawn its bid to host any games in the Territory.
Canberra Liberals Leader Alistair Coe said on Monday his government had communicated with Football Federation Australia (FFA) to renegotiate hosting tournament games in the capital.
“It is a disservice to the city but particularly to football fans and to the women and girls playing soccer here in the Territory,” he said.
“We have contacted the FFA and we are very keen to enter negotiations about trying to bring the Women’s World Cup to Canberra in 2023.”
The bid proposed 13 stadiums across the two countries, including stadiums in Sydney, Perth, Newcastle, Melbourne, Adelaide and Brisbane.
The ACT Government revealed it was withdrawing its bid in November last year, labelling cost and scheduling issues as the driving factors.
ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr labelled the asking price of over $1 million per host game as “exorbitant” last week.
However, Mr Coe said the benefits would outweigh the costs.
“It’s interesting that the Chief Minister is suddenly being fiscally reasonable. We find it unreasonable that he is not seeing the extraordinary opportunities that exist with the Women’s World Cup,” he said.
“The ACT Government is currently paying about $1 million per premiership game for the GWS to play in the ACT.
“They are willing to pay $1 million for the Giants each game, but they are not willing to pay $1 million for this global event.”
It has been proposed that despite Canberra not being scheduled to host any matches, it would be suitable to be used as a training facility for many of the 32 competing teams.
Mr Coe said Canberra Stadium was a more than fitting location to host the tournament, despite some suggestions there would be a large cost in getting it to comply with FIFA standards.
“I think Canberra Stadium already is fit for purpose for a match of this high calibre,” he said.
“We have only just contacted the FFA, so those discussions are yet to take place. However, given we are still three years away from the tournament we very much hope there are still opportunities.”
The Canberra Liberals have indicated it would be difficult to secure the matches after Labor dropped out of the running, but it would continue to push for the opportunity.
“I don’t think it’s too late. Obviously, there is a lot of water to go under the bridge, it will be difficult, but we are ambitious for this city,” he said.
“We want to have premier women’s sporting events in the Nation’s Capital, and we will do everything we can to put forward a competitive bid.”