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Peter Filopoulos: Hosting the Women’s World Cup will turbocharge the growth of women’s football

Peter Filopoulos FV

Peter Filopoulos, CEO of Football Victoria believes Australia’s successful FIFA Women’s World Cup (WWC) bid will fast-track the sport’s growth and generate much-needed funds for the nation’s footballing infrastructure.

“This is the most exciting football news this country has ever seen, other than qualifying for the 1974 and 2006 World Cups. For me, this is the biggest global event the country has ever won the hosting rights to. It is an enormous opportunity,” Filopoulos says.

The joint Trans-Tasman bid was victorious over Colombia, who was the only other potential host nation after Japan withdrew its bid only weeks before the final decision. The proposed date for the tournament to start is the 10 July 2023, with the final being held on 10 August.

The benefits of hosting one of the world’s largest sporting events cannot be overstated, particularly at a time when Australian football has struggled for investment, infrastructure, and viewership.

“We are growing at such a rapid rate that we have become victims of our own success. There has clearly been chronic underinvestment in the past which has created a facilities gap. In the community we have about 10,000 to 15,000 boys and girls missing out in club land every year,” Filopoulos says.

“We organically grew 24 per cent in 2018 and 29 per cent in 2019. Winning the hosting rights for the WWC will turbocharge growth in the women’s sector and help us to reach 50-50 participation, as well as accelerating the creation of more female-friendly facilities.”

At the top level, Filopoulos has already secured $15 million from the Federal Government to establish a state-of-the-art training facility dubbed the ‘Home of the Matildas’. Football Victoria will conduct a feasibility study with the State Government for further budget considerations for Phase 1 of the project, which is expected to begin in 2021 and be completed in early 2023.

Industry leaders are optimistic that the hosting rights will continue to trigger further investment into football, from the elite level down to the grass roots.

“Female football has evolved dramatically in Australia and it’s going to be fantastic to have the World Cup here. There is an opportunity to leave a real legacy from the national team right down to the grass roots, the coaches, and the facilities,” says Matildas legend and Football Coaches Australia Vice President Heather Garriock.

The Matildas will enter the tournament with a point to prove after suffering a knockout-stage exit in their last World Cup campaign, losing in a penalty shootout to Norway. The 2023 edition however will be more competitive than ever, with the tournament set to expand from 24 to 32 teams.

“We currently have an exceptional core group that have been around the team for a long time. They will be in their peak for the Tokyo Olympics next year and come 2023, it will be our best chance ever to win a medal,” Garriock says.

“We cannot forget the former Matildas who have paved the way for the current generation. I think acknowledging history is really important because it paints a beautiful picture that due to them, we are now able to achieve the dream of hosting a World Cup.”

In addition to fast-tracking the development of Australian football, major international events like the WWC act as a stimulant for a host nation’s economy and public image.
The 2019 WWC, which took place in France, broke records for total viewership and attendance figures. More than 1.12 billion people tuned in over the course of the tournament which included ticket sales of more than 1.16 million.

“The economic impact will be significant. This will start on 10 July and finish on 10 August so fans will come for a minimum of three weeks, but likely longer. In the context of tourism, people will be spending time and money in hotels and in the cities so the domestic economy will benefit greatly,” says Michael Edgley, Director of the Green & Gold Army, Australia’s leading football tour company.

“Another factor is the social benefit that is generated by these types of events. The positive atmosphere creates enormous joy and a fun experience, which is really important for women’s football. Last year’s WWC in France was right up there as one of the best events I’ve worked at.”

A key to securing hosting rights was Australia and New Zealand’s successfully delivery of past international sporting events. From the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games to the 2006 and 2018 Commonwealth Games and the 2011 Rugby World Cup, both nations have rich sporting histories and proven track records.

“Australia and New Zealand have developed economies, stadiums, and great event industries whether it is on the creative side or in operations delivery. We’re in a great place to showcase the best of women’s football to the rest of the world,” Edgley says.

“Many Australians don’t yet understand how big this is, over a billion people will watch this, possibly up to two billion. We will be able to showcase Australia, our way of life and promote gender equality. Australia will get its chance to enhance our standing in the world and create a legacy moving forward.”

In total five stadiums across New Zealand will be used, including the tournament opener at Eden Park, Auckland while eight stadiums in Australia will host matches, culminating in the final at Sydney’s 70,000 seat Stadium Australia.

 

Previously published as: How the FIFA Women’s World Cup will secure investment and drive industry growth

$1.5 Billion FIFA COVID-19 Relief Plan Approved

FIFA

The Bureau of the FIFA Council has approved the FIFA COVID-19 Relief Plan regulations which aim to financially support member associations during the pandemic.

$1.5 billion USD ($2.1 billion AUD), will be made available by the international governing body to assist the member associations and confederations.

Each member association will receive a $1 million USD universal solidarity grant. An extra $500,000 USD will be provided which can only be used for women’s football.

The six football confederations will also receive $2 million USD each, these grants will be received by the organisations by January 2021.

As a part of the plan member associations will also be able to apply for interest free loans of up to 35 per cent of their annual revenues. FIFA has set a maximum loan limit of five million dollars. Confederations will be able to apply for loan of up to four million dollars.

FIFA said that clear loan repayment conditions are laid out in the regulations along with strict compliance and audit requirements.

“This relief plan is a great example of football’s solidarity and commitment in such unprecedented times,” said FIFA President Gianni Infantino.

“I would like to thank my colleagues of the Bureau of the Council for approving the decision to move forward with such an important initiative for the benefit of all member associations and confederations.”

With the funds provided FIFA believes that member associations will be able to restart competitions, re-hire staff and pay any administration or operating costs.

“Unfortunately, the resultant suspension of basic football activities in almost every country has led to enormous financial distress for member associations and their respective football structures,” FIFA said in the relief plan.

“FIFA quickly recognised the need and duty to implement a FIFA COVID-19 Relief Plan aimed at alleviating this distress and ensuring the provision of financial support to assist with football’s resumption and protect the games future well-being across the globe.”

FIFA administrators created the plan earlier this year after consultation with the confederations. The plan was then approved by the FIFA Council on June 25.

New Zealand Football confirms 2020/21 season details

New Zealand Football has confirmed the details and starting dates of its national competitions for the 2020/21 season, during October and November.

New Zealand Football has confirmed the details and starting dates of its national competitions for the 2020/21 season.

The national men’s football league, the ISPS Handa Premiership will start in November, while the National Women’s League will commence from the weekend of October 31.

COVID-19 has also forced some structural changes to be made to both the men’s and women’s competitions.

In the ISPS Handa Premiership, the competition will feature eight club instead of the usual 10 teams. The South Island teams, Southern United, Tasman United and Canterbury United Dragons, will merge for the upcoming season. They will play under the Canterbury United Dragons name.

The competition will retain its usual format of a regular season with each team playing each other twice before a finals series including semi-finals and a grand final – the latter is expected to be held in March 2021.

Plans for a promotion and relegation framework have been postponed and will be reviewed before the 2021/22 season.

The National Women’s League will be played as a single round robin competition for this season. A grand final will be held on the weekend of December 19. The competition will feature all seven women’s teams.

“It has taken a lot of work with our clubs and federations to get to this stage but we are excited to now be able to confirm initial details of our national competitions for the upcoming season,” Daniel Farrow, General Manager of Football for New Zealand Football said in a statement.

“While Covid-19 and the knock-on effect of shifting community football dates has had an impact on the length of competitions and, in the case of the ISPS Handa Premiership, the number of teams able to take part, running men’s, women’s and futsal national league competitions this year was a key priority and we are very pleased to be able to make that happen.

“We also want to acknowledge the support of Sport NZ and our on-going partnership with Trillian Trust as key contributors to staging competitions this season.”

The 2019/20 ISPS Handa Premiership was called off early in March due to COVID-19. Auckland City, who were leading the competition at the time, were declared champions.

Queensland features an abundance of Matildas

New figures show that Queensland's female development has been incredibly successful in finding new talent, who have represented the Westfield Matildas.

New figures show that Queensland’s female development has been incredibly successful in finding talent, who have represented the Westfield Matildas.

As part of Football Queensland’s latest findings, 40 homegrown players have gone on to represent the Australian Women’s National Team at major senior and youth tournaments since July 2012.

Katrina Gorry, Mackenzie Arnold and Hayley Raso (pictured) are a few examples of local talents working their way up the ranks during the last eight years and will be key contributors in the next Women’s World Cup hosted by Australia and New Zealand in 2023.

Gorry, Arnold and Raso spent time at the Queensland Academy of Sport (QAS) before accomplishing themselves in the Westfield W-League and internationally.

Football Queensland and the QAS combined to launch a full-time training and playing program for upcoming talents in 2018.

“Our pathway is now the envy of every female footballer in the country,” Rae Dower said, a former Matilda and current Junior Matildas Head Coach.

“We’re fully committed to evolving the program and to helping as many female players in Queensland reach their full potential on and off the field through the creation of our high-performance environment.

“We’d love to help make dreams come true for Queensland players wanting to play for the Matildas in a home FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2023 and beyond.”

Football Federation Australia revealed more than 18,000 women and girls from Queensland played football in 2019, as part of the latest census findings – a three per cent increase on 2018.

“The numbers we have are very encouraging and we look forward to seeing Queensland produce many more Westfield Matildas,” FQ Technical Director Gabor Ganczer said.

“Having the FIFA Women’s World Cup on home soil will be a big moment and objective for aspirational players and we are putting a lot of resources into helping them achieve their goals, not just now but permanently.”

Football Queensland provided every local player who has represented Australia at Olympic Games, World Cups or Continental Championships since the beginning of July in 2012:

Laura Alleway, Mackenzie Arnold, Mia Bailey, Angela Beard, Georgia Beaumont, Savannah Boller, Eliza Campbell, Kim Carroll, Kyra Cooney-Cross, Larissa Crummer, Isobel Dalton, Casey Dumont, Charlotte Farmer, Ciara Fowler, Mary Fowler, Sunny Franco, Shekinah Friske, Emily Gielnik, Brooke Goodrich, Katrina Gorry, Winonah Heatley, Elise Kellond-Knight, India Kubin, Aivi Luik, Afrikah McGladrigan, Teagan Micah, Ayesha Norrie (Kirby), Hollie Palmer, Clare Polkinghorne, Kezia Pritchard, Hayley Raso, Jamilla Rankin, Taylor Ray, Indiah-Paige Riley, Arina Tokunaga, Kaitlyn Torpey, Cortnee Vine, Natasha Wheeler, Brittany Whitfield, Tameka Yallop (Butt).

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