There are strong hopes Canberra will be used as a training destination for some of the 32 football teams travelling to the country for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
The news broke at around 2am overnight (Thursday) that Australia and New Zealand had secured its bid to host the next event.
University of Canberra Assistant Professor of sports management Dr Catherine Ordway, a champion of gender equality in sport, said the winning bid was a victory for the country and women’s sport.
“I hope winning this bid means we can reboot the momentum that we had been feeling in women’s sport before the pandemic hit,” she said.
“Finally, we had gotten to the point where it was in regular in sporting conversations, but we have fallen behind with everything that’s happened.
“The other big bid that we won was the women’s basketball world cup in 2022 which this one will directly follow. That is great momentum for women’s sport.”
The bid proposed 13 stadiums across the two countries, however requested that only five in each country be used.
Australian stadiums that will be considered include Stadium Australia and Sydney Football Stadium in Sydney, Perth Oval, Newcastle Stadium, AAMI Park in Melbourne, Hindmarsh Stadium in Adelaide and Lang Park in Brisbane.
Dr Ordway said it was a worrying night with some last-minute surprises, despite the results showing the joint bid received 22 votes compared to just 13 for Columbia.
“Information was circling that parts of the European voting bloc would be voting against Australia and for Columbia instead, which we weren’t expecting because we were voted the best bid technically,” she said.
“It was getting a little scary and there were some suggestions from journalists saying that there could be split in the votes.”
To Australia’s surprise, the English Football Association voted against the joint bid.
The last FIFA Women’s World Cup was hosted in France during 2019, with 24 teams competing.
The successful bid was a big win for Australia, after failing to win the rights to the 2022 Men’s World Cup, despite the backing of $46 million of Federal Government funding.
While Canberra will not host any matches, there are hopes the ACT will be used as a training destination for a number of the contesting teams.
“I understand we withdrew our bid because there was an understanding to bring our infrastructure in line with FIFA standards was too expensive,” she said.
“That doesn’t mean we can’t be used as a training environment. There will be 32 teams playing and hopefully we will get them training here in the ACT and that will bring along some fans as well.”
Dr Ordway said she was overjoyed with the win and said it should be a lesson to other Australian sporting leagues.
“The main thing I hope from this is that the CEOS of AFL, NRL and other spots take a long hard look at what they are doing in resourcing women’s sport,” she said.
“Their poor response during COVID-19 has given a really clear indication on where their priorities lie, and I would like to see them come to the table and put their money where their mouth is.”