SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia and New Zealand would deliver the highest-attended women’s soccer World Cup in 2023, with projections of more than 1.5 million spectators and an average crowd of 24,000 if they are awarded the tournament, officials said on Tuesday.
The trans-Tasman neighbors last week launched a joint bid backed by both governments to bring the tournament to the southern hemisphere for the first time in 2023.
Their official bid book was presented to world governing body FIFA last Friday.
Brazil, Colombia and Japan also submitted formal bids to host the tournament, the first to feature 32 teams.
This year’s 24-team World Cup in France, won by the United States, set records for attendance and attracted unprecedented viewing figures on television.
Average attendance in France was about 23,500, with the final in Lyon attracting 57,900. The 2015 tournament in Canada sold a record total of 1.35 million tickets.
New Zealand Football President Johanna Wood said their bid, which is marketed with the tag-line ‘As One’, was also built on providing a legacy for soccer in both countries and throughout the South Pacific.
“Moving the dial for women’s football across our confederations and beyond sits at the very heart of our vision for the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023, as well as leading the way for gender equity and creating strong role models for women in leadership,” Wood said in a statement on Tuesday.
“We stand ready As One to deliver FIFA the most successful Women’s World Cup ever, a ground-breaking tournament whose impact will reverberate across the globe.”
The pool phase for the joint Australasian bid would be split evenly with four groups in each country.
Auckland’s Eden Park, the site of two men’s rugby World Cup finals, would host the opening ceremony and first match.
Australia, with its bigger stadia, would then host the majority of the knockout matches with five of the eight second round games, three quarter-finals, one semi-final and the playoff for third.
Sydney’s redeveloped Olympic Stadium, with a capacity of 70,000, would be the venue for the final.
The Australasian bid is the first that crosses the boundaries of FIFA’s six confederations. Australia realigned with the Asian confederation in early 2006, while New Zealand remained in the much smaller Oceania region.
The 2023 hosts will be decided by FIFA next year.
(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Christopher Cushing)