Australia’s opening match at this year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup will now take place at Accor Stadium as part of plans to maximise attendance for the fixture.
The match had initially been due to take place at Allianz Stadium, which has a capacity of 42,500, but demand for tickets has prompted the switch to the much larger Accor Stadium (also known as Stadium Australia).
The game between Australia and the Republic of Ireland will still kick-off at 8pm local time on July 20. Australia is co-hosting the World Cup alongside New Zealand, with the opening match of the tournament to take place earlier that day between New Zealand and Norway at Auckland’s Eden Park. It is hoped that the two fixtures will attract a cumulative attendance of over 100,000.
Accor Stadium had originally been due to host knockout matches at the World Cup but significant interest in tickets for Australia’s opener against Ireland has prompted FIFA to move the fixture to Sydney’s biggest venue. Additional single-match passes for the match will go on sale on February 24.
The decision to move the match follows a thorough assessment of the competition and operational implications, as well as a comprehensive consultation process and agreement with key stakeholders.
Fans who had already purchased tickets for the match at Allianz Stadium will be notified by email that the fixture has been relocated, with their tickets to remain valid at Accor Stadium.
Accor Stadium is already hosting an NRL State of Origin match on July 12 and FIFA normally requires a two-week buffer period for other events taking place at tournament venues, but organisers are said to be confident that the pitch will recover in time.
Fatma Samoura, FIFA secretary general, said: “FIFA’s mission is to organise the biggest and best Women’s World Cup in history this year, and fans, those who bring colour, passion, and atmosphere to stadiums, will be such an integral part of the tournament’s success.
“With this in mind, we have taken a decision that will enable over 100,000 fans to attend the opening match day, providing more opportunities for supporters to engage with the FIFA Women’s World Cup as a month of football we will never forget gets underway.”
James Johnson, chief executive of Football Australia, added: “It’s very exciting news. The move from Sydney Football Stadium to Stadium Australia is big for Australian football and highlights the confidence which we have in the CommBank Matildas to draw a huge crowd for the first match of the tournament in Australia.
“This is a major worldwide competition, and it really places Australia and New Zealand right at the heart and the centre of world football for a month. As we witnessed in 2022, these competitions transcend sport and really bring the Australian community together.
“This move, which Football Australia strongly advocated for, completely aligns with our positioning of the CommBank Matildas as one of our two iconic national teams and one of Australia’s most loved sporting teams. It will ensure that more people can now be a part of the opening match of the CommBank Matildas at the FIFA Women’s World Cup.”
Accor Stadium, which will also host the final of the tournament, holds the record attendance for a home match played by Australia’s national women’s team. The record was set in November 2021 as 36,109 fans watched Australia take on the USA.
As of January 17, over half a million tickets had been sold for the Women’s World Cup.