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Football Australia celebrates landmark FIFA Women’s World Cup and record-breaking success

By George Hadgelias

Football Australia today marked the end of a remarkable group stage of the FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia and New Zealand 2023™, which has set new standards and showcased the organisation’s pivotal role in co-hosting the historic event and advancing women’s football in Australia and beyond.

Numerous records set already see the tournament as the most successful FIFA Women’s World Cup™ ever held.

“This FIFA Women’s World Cup has been a milestone for Football Australia and for women’s football in our country.  The success of the tournament so far shines a spotlight on the transformative power of the FIFA Women’s World Cup and football’s ability to unite and inspire beyond borders. This is why we have invested in women’s football and made a firm commitment to support and promote the women’s game by bringing the FIFA Women’s World Cup to Australia. We are overwhelmed with the profound impact of the tournament so far,” said James Johnson, CEO of Football Australia.

The phenomenal success of the tournament so far is further testament to the strategic work undertaken by Football Australia to enhance the brand of the CommBank Matildas, in a deliberate strategy to elevate our senior female footballers to equal status with the Subway Socceroos. Over the last few years, the CommBank Matildas have evolved into one of Australia’s most loved national teams, bringing fans of all ages and all cultures together to celebrate our shared love for the beautiful game.

“Football Australia has always believed in the power and potential of the CommBank Matildas and women’s football,” added Johnson. “Their unwavering spirit and resilience resonate with our nation’s values and their success on the pitch has made them a symbol of national pride. To see Australian united behind this team has been inspiring.

“Our purpose for bidding to host the tournament was to use the global power of the FIFA Women’s World Cup to transform our local game and that’s why we launched our Legacy ‘23 plan in February 2021. Today, we are living out this vision and are seeing more Australians play and support football than ever before. We have unlocked $365 million to support the continued growth of women’s football through stadia upgrades and investment into inclusive facilities for our community.

“When we bid to host, we promised FIFA that we would co-host the biggest and best-ever edition of the tournament, and that is what we have seen so far. Today, football is at the centre of every city and town across the country, attendance records have been set in Australia with an average of over 30,000 for each match, and new broadcast records being set.

“As we approach the knockout stages, the stakes and intensity are set to rise. We’ve seen incredible performances in the group stage, and now we’ll witness the culmination of training and determination from our athletes. Expect thrilling action, superior gameplay, and surprises along the way. Our hopes are high, and we believe in our teams’ potential to exceed them. Australia can prepare for an unprecedented football spectacle,” concluded Johnson.

The group stage of the FIFA Women’s World Cup™ witnessed record-breaking numbers. This highlights the positive impact Football Australia’s initiatives have had on promoting women’s football.

  • The 48 group stage matches drew robust attendances, with fans flocking to stadiums in unprecedented numbers to show their support. Earlier this week, the tournament crossed over 1.7 million ticket sales. FIFA’s original ticket sales target for the tournament was 1.3 million, and this was later revised to 1.5 million sales. 1.1 million fans attended the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019 – already over 1.2 million fans have been in the stands in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand.
  • This wave of support was also evident in the record broadcast audience numbers, underscoring the growing popularity of women’s football.  Earlier this week, the Seven network announced that their coverage of the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023™, had reached 8.02 million broadcast viewers plus 1.14 million on their streaming platform 7plus.  More than 106 million minutes of content had been on 7plus to date.
  • Such is the strength of the CommBank Matildas that Monday night’s victory over Canada was the most watched program on the Seven network in 2023 with a national broadcast reach of over 5.32 million Australians on broadcast and BVOD.
  • From merchandise sales, the Matildas’ jerseys for this FIFA Women’s World Cup are outselling the Socceroos’ jersey from the FIFA Men’s World Cup two to one.  Retailer, and Football Australia partner, Rebel Sport recently reported that their customers have made the FIFA Women’s World Cup™ an amazing success with merchandise sales to date making it one of the best supported major sporting events that they have ever seen.
  • Moreover, the tournament’s digital engagement metrics have also set new records, with millions interacting with our content online. This represents an unparalleled level of engagement and interaction from fans and players alike.
  • In a further demonstration that the tournament has captured the imagination of the Australian public, tens of thousands of fans have flocked to live sites and FIFA Fan Festivals™ all over Australia to watch FIFA Women’s World Cup™ matches and engage with the best in football, music, entertainment, local culture, food and games.

As the tournament now moves into the knockout stages, Football Australia are eager to build on this early success and continue showcasing the thrilling talent that the women’s game has to offer. Football Australia remains committed to enhancing women’s football at all levels and looks forward to seeing how these efforts will further inspire and ignite passion amongst football fans in Australia and across the globe.

Football Australia’s bid for co-hosting rights was supported by Federal and State Governments and underpinned by a strong commitment to transform the football landscape and leave a positive and enduring legacy for future generations.

Launched in February 2021 at Parliament House in Canberra, the Legacy ’23 plan is an ambitious strategy to deliver economic, social, physical, and mental health benefits as well as social and multicultural inclusion through five key pillars – Participation, Community Facilities, Leadership & Development, Tourism & International Engagement and High Performance.

“Whilst the progress report highlights the significant investment made in our Legacy ’23 plan, there is still much to do with a national average of only 41% of football facilities classified as female-friendly, dropping to as low as 26% in Tasmania and Western Australia,” added Sarah Walsh, Head of Women’s Football, World Cup Legacy and Inclusion.

A significant gap that must be addressed to ensure the sport can meet the expected surge in participation and advance the experience of female players and officials, to improve retention, and foster the benefits that football delivers to its community of over 2 million people. CLICK HERE to view the pre-tournament Legacy ’23 report.

Football Australia would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to all who have been part of this journey, including the fans, players, officials, and our dedicated team. We are proud of our contribution to this incredible celebration of women’s football and look forward to the continuation of this fantastic tournament.

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