MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Sydney’s Stadium Australia will host the 2023 women’s World Cup final, with Eden Park in Auckland staging the first match of a tournament organisers hope will drive gender parity in soccer.
Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth will also host games in Australia, with New Zealand’s Dunedin, Hamilton and Wellington completing the nine host cities for the global showpiece.
Co-hosts Australia and New Zealand will have one semi-final each with the full schedule to be announced later this year, soccer’s global governing body FIFA said.
“The appointment of the nine host cities represents a major milestone for the next FIFA women’s World Cup, as well as for players and fans across Australia, New Zealand and around the world,” FIFA President Gianni Infantino said in a statement.
Host city bids from Australia’s Newcastle and Launceston, and New Zealand’s Christchurch missed out.
“We have already started to brainstorm with those cities that missed out, this is a tournament for the whole of Australia and we won’t be successful unless we maximise the benefits throughout Australia,” Football Australia (FA) Chairman Chris Nikou told reporters on Thursday.
“Some of those cities are very well placed to be base camps for training centres and facilities.”
New Zealand Football President Johanna Wood said it would be a privilege to co-host the tournament with Australia, adding: “We have and will continue to work with our partners to deliver the biggest, most exciting and best tournament to date.”
The trans-Tasman neighbours will put on the first women’s World Cup hosted by more than one country and the first to feature 32 teams.
FA has forecast an extra 400,000 girls and women will take up the sport in Australia as a result of the World Cup.
Australian Rules football and rugby league remain the most dominant winter sports in the country but Nikou said local authorities needed to build more soccer infrastructure.
“The growth of the sport has been phenomenal but the growth of the infrastructure needs to catch up,” he told reporters.
“We need to be working with governments to support the biggest participation sport, the most multicultural sport in the country.”
(Additional reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; editing by Clare Fallon/Peter Rutherford)