Football’s biggest stage is coming Down Under, with Australia and New Zealand announced as the joint hosts of the Women’s World Cup in 2023.
Soccer teams from 32 countries will compete across 12 cities after Australia and NZ emphatically beat Colombia for the hosting rights.
Cheers and celebrations erupted when the announcement was made overnight, with Matildas star Sam Kerr tweeting a gif of her post-goal backflip that went viral in 2017, followed by the statement “we did it. We freaking did it”.
Players with The Matildas, as Australia’s team is known, and the Football Ferns, New Zealand’s national team, shared their excitement about hosting women’s soccer’s biggest tournament.
The Football Ferns were filmed screaming with joy the moment they heard the Australian-New Zealand submission launched in December 2019 to host the World Cup had won.
The joint bid achieved 22 of the 35 votes from the FIFA Council on Thursday and scored 4.1 out of five in the evaluation report.
“I will never forget this moment,” wrote Football Ferns skipper Ali Riley alongside a tearful image of herself.
“THE WORLD IS COMING TO AUSTRALIA & NEW ZEALAND IN 2023 We did it!” tweeted Matilda’s Jenna McCormick.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino said the report was too good for him to not award his vote to – despite the nine-strong UEFA contingent voting in favour of Colombia.
The Australia and New Zealand bid outscored the Colombia bid emphatically and bettered the South Americans, who scored 2.9, in every criteria – stadiums, team and referee facilities, accommodation, International Broadcast Centre (IBC), competition-related event sites and commercial.
“I am sure we will have the best World Cup ever,” Mr Infantino said.
The event will take place between July and August in 2023, across 12 cities in Australia and New Zealand, with the opening match to be played at Eden Park in Auckland and the final in Sydney.
“It was a difficult decision for me,” Mr Infantino said.
“FIFA in the past has been accused of not giving enough attention to the technical evaluation reports.
“But we have to show that these reports mean something or we are going to have to stop organising biddings.
“If that was not the case with the old FIFA well it won’t be with the new FIFA and I am very proud of that.”
Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Newcastle, Launceston will be the Australian hosts.
Wellington, Christchurch, Hamilton, Dunedin will host the New Zealand fixtures alongside Auckland.
“We are leaders not only in women’s football, but in the journey to achieve gender equality both on and off the pitch,” New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern said in an open letter to FIFA prior to the vote,
“We have achieved equality in pay for our women’s national teams and this is something we are very proud of.
“This tournament will provide an opportunity to grow women’s football across all Asia-Pacific, and beyond, and we will shine a light on the women’s game like never before.”
Football Federation Australia chairman Chris Nikou said the successful bid was an enormous opportunity to grow football in the region.
“FIFA today has made not one, but two countries very happy,” said Nikou.
“We know there is a lot of work to be done.
“But our pledge to the FIFA family is that no stone will be left unturned to produce the best World Cup and grow the women’s game globally and in the Asia-Pacific region.”
New Zealand Football Federation president Johanna Wood promised the two nations would work together to deliver a tournament to remember.
“Chris and I and the whole bidding team are extremely delighted with the result,” she said.
“We’ve always said with this bid, that it is as one and making history and creating opportunities.
“Chris mentioned when he spoke to council that this is a gift we have been given and we add to that by saying we have been given a treasure.
“We will look after the treasure and make women’s football even more front and centre and we will do that as a team.”