Football Australia details economic impact of Women’s World Cup

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Football Australia (FA) has stated that its co-hosting of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup generated an induced economic impact of A$1.32bn (£680.4m/€795.2m/$862.6m), adding it is determined to tackle a A$2.9bn gap in facility investment to meet the growing interest in the women’s game.

Having kicked off on July 20 with the opening match at Auckland’s Eden Park setting a new record for a football match in New Zealand, 42,137, the tournament drew to a close on August 20 with Spain defeating England 1-0 at Accor Stadium in Sydney.

An impact evaluation report released by the New Zealand government in December revealed that the World Cup delivered a net economic benefit of NZ$109.5m (£53.3m/€62.3m/$67.6m) for the country, while FIFA president Gianni Infantino hailed Australia and New Zealand’s “transformational” staging as the event drew to a close, adding that the tournament’s revenue generation would allow it to break even.

FA has now released a post-tournament report on the Legacy ‘23 strategy. Research conducted by Neilsen in October revealed the induced economic impact of A$1.32bn, with the presence of 86,654 visitors in Australia said to be a major driver of the economic activity.

The 35 matches in Australia drew 1,269,531 spectators, with the FA report calling for continued investment and support to build on the success and momentum of the World Cup and further elevate Australia’s position on the global football arena.

James Johnson, CEO of Football Australia, said: “The FIFA Women’s World Cup was a testament to Australia’s capability to host globally significant tournaments. The sporting, economic and societal benefits which the tournament generated, not just to football, but to other sports as well as broader Australian society are now there for all to see in the post-tournament report.

“To continue this trajectory, we aim to secure the hosting rights for the AFC (Women’s) Asian Cup 2026, which will require government support at all levels. We believe that this will once again be a huge value-generator for Australia and another boost to the ongoing growth of Australian football and more broadly throughout Asia and the Oceania region.”

Indeed, the path to landing the Women’s Asian Cup was cleared significantly last week, with Australia now in the box seat for the hosting rights following the withdrawal of Saudi Arabia and Uzbekistan from the hosting race.

The report underscored the significant impact of the Legacy’23 strategy. However, it also highlighted critical shortfalls. Despite the strides made, the report said the Legacy ‘23 plan fell well short of its “ambitious targets”. With over 2,400 clubs operating at full capacity, FA said it is committed to working with all levels of government, and other sporting codes, to address the A$2.9bn gap in facility investment across Australia.

As a result of co-hosting the Women’s World Cup, FA unlocked more than A$398m in federal and state government funding for Legacy ’23 related projects. The report highlighted that A$129m (33%) of the total funds secured for Legacy ’23 also positively benefited other sports, particularly the two rugby codes, through upgrades to venues used during the tournament, namely Melbourne Rectangular Stadium, La Trobe Sports Precinct, Perth Rectangular Stadium and Brisbane Stadium.

Johnson added: “These successes have seen a dramatic increase in women’s participation in football which is adding more pressure on the need for government investment, at all levels, to closing the A$2.9bn gap in facility investment across Australia. 

“With over 2,400 clubs at capacity, we continue to work with all levels of government to meet the needs of 1.7 million participants across Australia.

“We are encouraged by the Federal Government’s A$200m Play Our Way grant program, which was inspired by the CommBank Matildas at last year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup to address the growing facilities gap in our community following strong and continued growth in participation.”