Last Sunday’s T20 Women’s World Cup final between Australia and India was a fantastic sporting spectacle.
The crowd of over 86,000 at the MCG, the highest attendance for a standalone women’s sporting event in Australia, saw the Aussie side win their fifth T20 World Cup.
The local TV ratings were also impressive, with an average audience of 1.231 million Australians tuning into the match.
While the tournament final was a huge success, it is up for debate whether the previous stages lived up to expectations.
Crowds were small for most of the other games throughout the competition, including only 6,161 showing up to the SCG for a rain affected Australia vs South Africa semi-final.
Australia’s opening match of the tournament against India had 13,432 fans in attendance at the Sydney Showground Stadium, the biggest outside of the final.
In comparison, The Matildas drew a crowd of 14,014 in Newcastle last Friday for an Olympic qualifier against Vietnam.
If Australia and New Zealand do win the right to host the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, it’s safe to say crowd figures will be much more impressive than the T20 Women’s World Cup.
Initial projections in Australia and New Zealand’s joint bid book, claim that over 1.5 million will attend the 2023 tournament with an average crowd of 24,000 per match.
Australia will host 24 games throughout the group stages of the tournament and 11 in the knockout stage, with the final to be held at Stadium Australia in Sydney.
The other stadiums that will be used for the tournament in Australia are: the Melbourne Rectangular Stadium, Brisbane Stadium, Newcastle Stadium, York Park, Perth Oval, the re-developed Sydney Football Stadium and Hindmarsh Stadium.
If the tournament is priced correctly, it’s hard to see Australia’s bid not being extremely successful for women’s sport.
Crowds for Matildas games in a home World Cup will be huge, but there will also be significant interest in other teams competing in the tournament due to our diverse population.
TV ratings will be big in Australia and around the world, although Australia’s time-zone is not exactly favourable for a major event.
Speaking to SBS TWG, Off The Pitch reporter and experienced FIFA and UEFA watcher James Corbett, believes Australia is the favourite.
“If we look at it as a rational open tender process, you’d like to think [that Australia are in front],” Corbett said.
“The Matildas are arguably Australia’s most popular national team and in a competitive domestic sporting culture have brilliantly carved out a place for ’soccer’ in Australia and the country has, in Sam Kerr, one of the best players on the planet.
“The country has the infrastructure to host it; it’s an event that’s far less dependent on TV revenues as a measure of success, so its distance is less of a factor. It is politically and economically stable.”
Corbett believes FFA’s appointment of James Johnson as new CEO will change the perception of Australia’s governing body and their previous administration faults.
“If you look at the political side, where Australia has faltered in the past is a distance between its administrators from the ‘heart and soul’ of the game.
“Previous FFA CEOs and other leading executives have come from other sports and have been considered aloof from their peers in the global game, who ultimately decide these matters.
“The men’s 2022 World Cup bid – which was arrogant and sulphurous – was a case study in how not to bid for a major competition.
“There’s been a realignment with the true values of football in recent years, and the FFA’s new CEO, James Johnston, has worked for both FIFA and the AFC and knows which buttons to push, as well as being tremendously engaging and good at his job.
“Former Matilda, Moya Dodd, is arguably one of the most powerful people in women’s football worldwide and will know how to navigate the committee rooms.”
This past week the FFA announced that there was an 11% increase in participation in 2019 for women and girls playing the sport of Football in Australia.
These are important figures to show FIFA there is an appetite for women’s football in Australia and a World Cup on home soil will reap huge long-term benefits.
The overall total of close to 2 million people playing football in Australia is also a good indicator that there is a considerable market who will attend a world class footballing event in our backyard.
The Matildas qualified for the Olympics in Japan on Wednesday, a country who is expected to be Australia and New Zealand’s number one rival to host the 2023 Women’s World Cup.
The ball is now in FIFA’s court, with a host announcement to be made in June.