The FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia and New Zealand 2023 is already a resounding success, just six days into the tournament, thanks to record attendances, more than 1.5 million tickets sold, competitive matches and a festive atmosphere in the two host nations.
With the tournament capturing the hearts and minds of both home and visiting fans, FIFA President Gianni Infantino has thanked the two host nations for their efforts in raising the profile of women’s football to an unprecedented level on a global scale.
“I would really like to express a huge thank you to New Zealand and to Australia for hosting us here,” the FIFA President said. “We often say that football unites the world. New Zealand and Australia are uniting the world Down Under. They welcome all of us – every single person – the volunteers, the police officers, all the employees; everyone who is connected somehow with the (FIFA Women’s) World Cup has done a tremendous job. It’s welcoming, it’s warm, it’s smiling, and this is really priceless. I look forward to travelling around Australia, as I have been in New Zealand, to experience the diverse cultures of this wonderful event.”
“I’m a happy man and there are hundreds of thousands of happy men, women, girls, and boys who come to the matches and millions and millions watching it from home. So, a great success,” he added. “Great games, great goals, and some underdogs who create some surprises or give the favourites a tough time. I mean, all the ingredients are there already from the start.”
The opening day, Thursday, 20 July, saw more than 117,000 fans pack Eden Park in Auckland and Stadium Australia in Sydney. The 42,137 who attended New Zealand’s opening night defeat of Norway in Auckland was an all-time high for a football match – for women or men – in the country, while the 75,784 fans in Sydney for Australia’s match against the Republic of Ireland was the highest attendance at a FIFA Women’s World Cup™ for 24 years.
After only six days of the tournament, FIFA had already exceeded its target by selling more than 1.5 million tickets for the 64 matches.
After Tuesday’s game between Korea Republic and Colombia completed the first round of matches, the total attendance over the first 16 games was 459,547 with an average of 28,721—a 54% increase compared to the first 16 games of the previous tournament in France in 2019.
The FIFA Fan Festivals, which are being organised for the first time at a FIFA Women’s World Cup, are also proving popular. “We have a fan festival with over 120,000 people who joined, but not only in the main stadiums and the main cities, all over the whole cities there is a great atmosphere, there is happiness,” he said.
Mr Infantino also spoke of the global audience, remembering that the tournament was being shown in 200 territories through 130 broadcasters. “We have incredible viewing figures across the world which will definitely reach two billion viewers. It’s fantastic.”
Highlighting one of the matches he attended, the FIFA President said: “I was in Dunedin for Switzerland versus Philippines, the southernmost place where a World Cup match has taken place, and 14,000 to 15,000 people were attending that game in a festive atmosphere.”
The tournament has maintained a competitive balance, supporting the decision to expand the finals to 32 teams: in the opening 16 games, there have been two draws, seven matches decided by one goal, and two by two goals.
Indeed, both Colombia and New Zealand defied the latest FIFA/Cola-Cola Women’s World Ranking with their victories against Korea Republic and Norway, two higher-ranked teams.
“The matches are of an extremely high quality,” he concluded. ”I think this is also one of the features of this World Cup. For the first time 32 countries (are participating), eight debutants, and (there have been) great games, great goals (and) some underdogs who create some surprises or give a tough time to the favourites.”