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Optus Sport is the right platform to show 2023 Women’s World Cup

Late last week, Optus Sport announced that they had secured the Australian broadcasting rights for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Optus are believed to have outbid big players such as Amazon Prime and other international streaming companies to show the global competition in two years’ time.

The news comes after another broadcast deal was recently announced among Australian football circles, with the APL signing a $200 million deal for the A-League and W-League with ViacomCBS.

In what is a major coup for the streaming platform, Optus will showcase all 64 games of a tournament which is set to be the biggest sporting event held on Australian shores since the Sydney Olympics in 2000.

Optus have announced however, that key matches such as all Matildas games will also be co-broadcasted on a free-to-air channel.

Overall, one match a day of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia will be shown on free-to-air.

Alongside the games, the telecommunications company will produce a range of additional digital content and programming such as preview and review shows.

The rights are a major coup for Optus and Australian football fans should be satisfied that the company is showcasing the tournament.

Optus, over the past few years, have built up a strong portfolio of football rights content in Australia which includes the English Premier League, J-League and international football tournaments like the Copa America and European Championships.

Their strong coverage and care for their product offerings shine through on their streaming platform, something which hasn’t been the case in recent years for competitions such as the A-League on Foxtel.

Yes, they did have difficulties streaming the World Cup to hundreds of thousands of viewers in 2018, but since then they have learned from their mistakes and addressed the flaws on their service.

Optus also have a notable short-term history of showcasing top tier women’s football on their service, including the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France and the FA Women’s Super League, with the UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 set to also be shown in the build-up to the 2023 Women’s World Cup.

Optus Vice President of TV, Content and Product Development, Clive Dickens, believes women’s football is a core element of Optus Sport’s elite football offering, resulting in unprecedented coverage that would lead to even more Australian fans to women’s football.

“We have built an unparalleled pedigree in enhancing and supporting women’s football and building unique customer relationships with football fans, from the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019 in France to being amongst the first broadcasters of the Barclay’s FA Women’s Super League, to recently securing the exclusive rights to the UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 in England,” he said.

“The FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 represents a huge opportunity to help drive growth and visibility of women’s football in Australia and deliver football fans the best-ever coverage.

“We are committed to changing the future children see and the importance of promoting women in sport to drive that change. It is a privilege, and an endorsement of our credentials by FIFA, to be awarded the rights to showcase this monumental event,” Dickens concluded.

The Australian football community have responded in kind to Optus’ treatment of both men’s and women’s football, with the telco currently having over 888,000 active subscribers on their streaming platform.

Those numbers will continue to lift in the years to come, especially now that they have further invested significant funds into showing the biggest event in women’s football.

“The FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 is not just a football tournament, it’s one of the world’s biggest events and to host it in Australia and New Zealand is a dream come true. Young boys and girls, mums and dads will get the chance to see their role models – the Matildas – who are amongst the best players in the world,” said former Matilda and Optus Sport pundit Heather Garriock.

Optus broadcasting the 2023 Women’s World Cup seems like a move which is good for them, but also good for football.

Philip Panas is a sports journalist with Soccerscene. He reports widely on football policy and industry matters, drawing on his knowledge and passion of the game.

Bundesliga looks to become the first sustainable league in the world – will Australia follow?

The German Football League (DFL), the body which governs the Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga, recently outlined their ambitions to become the world’s first carbon neutral domestic football leagues.

On August 19, the DFL announced that clubs would take a vote in December of this year on whether to include environmental sustainability as a part of its licensing requirements.

Environmental sustainability has been placed at the forefront of the DFL’s objectives over the past six months, through their Taskforce for the Future of Professional Football.

The taskforce, which is made up of 36 business, sport and political experts also looks to focus their energy on other topics such as financial stability, communication with fans and supporting the growth of the professional women’s game.

“This is only the first step of a marathon,” Christian Pfennig, member of the DFL management board, explained to Forbes.

“Our goal is to anchor sustainability oriented to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals as another key factor in our licensing program by 2022/23. Then the following year, we want to introduce incentives, but also sanctions should a club fail to meet the minimum criteria.”

The criteria itself will be finalised with external experts in the coming weeks and months.

Multiple German clubs have been extremely well received for their commitment to sustainability over the years.

Wolfsburg, who are currently first in the Bundesliga this season, were ranked the most environmentally sustainable club earlier this year in a report conducted by Sport Positive.

The report highlighted Wolfsburg’s dedication to using 100 per cent green energy across the club by using bioplastic cups and for ensuring zero landfill waste, whilst offering vegan options at their stadium on game-day. The club’s website also contains a corporate responsibility page with information about climate protection and environmental initiatives, as they plan to be carbon neutral by 2025.

Freiburg have used solar energy at their Schwarzwald-Stadion since 1993, with their new stadium to follow suit when it opens in October. The new facility will also have green energy storage and plug-in charging stations.

In 2010, Mainz became the Bundesliga’s and one of the world’s first carbon neutral football clubs.

These promising examples and many others have generally been taken individually , but the DFL now wants to centralise its approach to sustainability.

“The most important step now is to create a framework for the different clubs that are part of the DFL, from a Champions League participant to teams promoted from the third division,” Pfennig said.

It’s a significant task, but the DFL believe they have to play a role in pursuing the best practices in tackling social issues, but they keep a realistic head in their objectives.

“There is no ideal world or ideal football, Pfennig said.

“We are aware that we will have to adjust our goals, also taking into account the background of an enormous change in all areas of life. That’s why we need a framework and always work in improving our goals.”

The centralised method has been successful for the implementation of other initiatives such as Supporter Liaison Officer’s (SLOs) and improvement of youth academies.

These works, which are part of the DFL’s licensing framework, have been copied by other countries around the world and Australia should be keeping a keen eye on them.

While looking to Germany may be a good guide for improving fan to club relations and youth academy developments, they should especially look to follow their upcoming sustainability guidelines.

Australian clubs should be further focusing on improving their efforts towards sustainability, in a country which generally fails to meet any of those types of objectives.

It may be a difficult initial transition but clubs will eventually benefit from this push in the years to come.

Football Queensland’s Girls United to encourage female participation

FQ Girls United

Football Queensland have announced the establishment of Girls United programs to inspire greater female participation in the world game across the state.

Girls United will involve a series of targeted programs aiming to encourage women and girls’ participation in football throughout Queensland.

The range of programs will include Development Holiday Programs, social football programs and sessions designed specifically for older women and multicultural communities.

The Girls United Social Program has already been launched in Wide Bay and focuses on providing a social and relaxed setting to play football in.

Girls United Kick On for Women is a low-impact program that provides physical and mental health benefits for women returning to physical activity.

Girls United Celebrating Diversity is an inclusive program designed to eliminate the barriers faced by culturally and linguistically diverse communities in sport.

Kate Lawson, Football Queensland Women and Girls Participation Manager, encouraged women and girls of all ages and cultural backgrounds to get involved in a Girls United program, regardless of their experience in the game.

“Girls United involves a variety of programs to encourage new participants in a fun, low key, inclusive environment,” she said.

“The Girls United Development Holiday Programs will launch across the state in September, with sessions already locked in at Tarragindi Tigers in the Metro South zone, The Gap FC in the Metro North zone, Caloundra FC on the Sunshine Coast, and Endeavor Park in Cairns.

“The free programs are designed to upskill female participants and will include a MiniRoos coaching course, a Level 4 referee course, social games and a BBQ.

“Both events are open to women and girls aged 13 and over, whether they are newcomers to football or experienced players.

“We have already seen great success with this program at Bethania Rams FC in the Metro South zone and Football Queensland will continue to work closely with clubs throughout the state to ensure we have the appropriate structures in place to recruit new participants to the game.”

Football Queensland Chief Executive Officer Robert Cavallucci stated the launch of Girls United was an ongoing demonstration that FQ is delivering on the objectives outlined in the Women and Girls Strategy.

“Football Queensland is committed to creating new products for women and girls and developing female players, coaches and referees,” Cavallucci said.

“September will be a huge month for Football Queensland as we host the Kappa Women’s Super Cup Final and the celebration of 100 years of women’s football.

“As we look ahead to the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2023, Football Queensland is determined to increase participation opportunities for women and girls throughout the state.”

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