Football fans to miss out on Women’s World Cup games in Canberra

Dominic Giannini 30 June 2020 51
Karly Roestbakken

Karly Roestbakken controls the ball during the round 1 W-League match between Canberra United and Perth Glory. Photo: File.

Despite unbridled delight among football fans after Australia and New Zealand won joint hosting rights for the 2023 Women’s World Cup, local fans won’t see any games in Canberra after the ACT Government declined the opportunity to get involved with the international event.

At least five cities in Australia and five cities in New Zealand will host games. Candidates for games include Adelaide, Melbourne, Launceston, Newcastle, Brisbane and Sydney (two games) in Australia; and Dunedin, Christchurch, Wellington, Hamilton and Auckland in New Zealand.

However, the ACT will not be nominating to host a game. Chief Minister Andrew Barr said the costs were exorbitant and would make hosting Women’s World Cup games one of the most expensive events ever run in the ACT.

“We are talking millions of dollars per game plus the requirements would have taken Canberra Stadium out of action for months of the winter football season,” Mr Barr said.

“We very carefully considered both the costs and the implications of being a host city and determined that rather than spending millions and millions on one or two games of football that would not involve the Australian team, that we would instead invest $20 million into the home of football in Throsby.

“It was just not economic and the asking price was too high for the sorts of matches we were going to get. [The cost] was unbelievable, all of the revenue from the ticket sales also go to the organisers, so there’s no possibility of the ACT making any money out of it at all.”

But Chair of the Capital Football board, Fran Sankey, said Canberra will still be involved in the WWC, one way or another.

“Whether it is through training grounds or as a tourist destination as the nation’s capital … hopefully, Canberra will also be producing some future Matildas,” she said.

“There are lots of locations around Australia that would have liked a game but missed out, but three years is a long way away so we will see.”

Football Federation Australia (FFA) board member Heather Reid said it was a huge moment for Australia and for women’s sport in the country.

“Often family members, spectators and fans cannot get to places like France or Canada or China but they will be able to get to Sydney Olympic Stadium,” she said.

“Hopefully [Canberra] will be putting in an application to be a training camp or pre-tournament preparation and everybody still get behind the World Cup and the Matildas.

“It might be the last time [Tuggeranong junior] Lydia Williams turns out in the green and gold and, of course, Karly Roestbakken is in the front seat for making her World Cup home debut.”

Roestbakken, a Canberra United star who made her Matildas debut at last year’s WWC in France, was equally excited at the announcement.

“What exciting times for football in Australia,” she said. “The thought of being able to play in front of friends and family, a home crowd on home soil, is just unreal and a dream come true.

“It is an amazing opportunity for women’s football in Australia!”

Opposition Leader Alistair Coe says the Liberals will strive to host a game in Canberra, showcasing the capital’s and Australian women’s football to an international audience.

“It would be a real shot in the arm for our economy. Regardless of what the game was, there would be huge interest right around the world. Canberra as a city would be beamed into lounge rooms right across the globe,” Mr Coe said.

Deputy Canberra Liberals’ leader Nicole Lawder reinforced how important it is for aspiring sports stars and young women to see their idols in action.

“We hear the saying ‘you cannot be what you cannot see’ and for young girls and women’s sport that opportunity to see their idols in action here in Canberra is an opportunity we should not miss,” she said.

Nicole Lawder

Canberra Liberals’ deputy leader Nicole Lawder says the WWC is a great opportunity for women to see their role models in action. Photo: Dominic Giannini.

Shadow Sports Minister James Milligan says the proposal to host WWC games in Canberra is in line with the Liberals’ 10-year strategic vision for sport and recreation in the ACT, Find Your Game.

The plan aims to make Canberra the “amateur sporting capital” by establishing the city as a sports innovation and research hub and offer a broad range of high-performance options for athletes and spectators.


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51 Responses to Football fans to miss out on Women’s World Cup games in Canberra
Lyndon Zoukowski Lyndon Zoukowski 10:05 pm 01 Jul 20

$1 million a game, no way! Love my Football ⚽ that's just insane

JS9 JS9 10:38 am 01 Jul 20

As shown by the article from Tim Gavel this morning, this is far more complex then the large amount of $$$$ asked for upfront. In particular, the biggest no go with it was basically having to hand the stadium over for 3 months prior, with noone else allowed to use it (i.e. no brumbies or raiders game for an extended period).

Unless FFA etc are willing to come back with a far more reasonable deal, then for once its a prudent decision from the ACT Government. Especially given we would likely end up with minnows playing here as well and not marquee games.

dukethunder dukethunder 8:34 am 01 Jul 20

Fascinating politics here. Labor being fiscally conservative and Liberals taking a progressive/ inclusive stance.

Paul Kelly Paul Kelly 8:24 am 01 Jul 20

Likelihood is that we would only get 2 low ranked nations that wouldnt draw a crowd. No chance we would get a Matildas game, so limited benefits.

Rosemary Brooker Rosemary Brooker 8:19 am 01 Jul 20

Maybe the ACT government can produce a tourism ad to run during the World Cup TV coverage to show the highlights of Canberra & the region.

Mark Monterosso Mark Monterosso 12:39 am 01 Jul 20

Pretty dumb decision.

Steve Wood Steve Wood 9:49 pm 30 Jun 20

Nah but we can spend billions on trams... Support women's international sport or stand down

Gabriel Spacca Gabriel Spacca 9:27 pm 30 Jun 20

Well, that’s one way to encourage an A-League team in Canberra. 🤦‍♂️

    Gabriel Spacca Gabriel Spacca 9:30 pm 30 Jun 20

    Oh and don’t worry Mr Barr. Football fans will be going to Sydney or beyond to spend our hard-earned. That’ll be good for the Canberra economy, won’t it.

Gregg Heldon Gregg Heldon 8:37 pm 30 Jun 20

I have no words. Such a stupid, myopic decision. Hosting a game would've been such a huge influence on the future of woman's sports here in Canberra for years to come. And you can't put a price on that.

Tim Cole Tim Cole 8:35 pm 30 Jun 20

Unusual for me to be in Barr's defence, but the ACT Government has committed a substantial amount of money towards the new Centre of Excellence for Football (soccer) out at Throsby. While we may miss out on a couple of matches, the new facility will have a larger long term impact for the overall development of the sport in Canberra

    Gregg Heldon Gregg Heldon 8:39 pm 30 Jun 20

    Tim Cole it's not just about sport. It's about tourism and putting Canberra on the world's stage.

Grace Stevens Grace Stevens 8:00 pm 30 Jun 20

Oscar Thomas lucky we are on gc now 😍

Matt White Matt White 5:37 pm 30 Jun 20

I think most people know fully well it’s not just about revenue during these sporting events. It’s about exposure of the city to a world audience that for many years to come after the event would then be more familiar with Canberra and put it on their places to visit list. I think it’s just a big mistake because he wants to justify to Canberrans and federal government that we need a new or revamped stadium. That may be true but a once in a 100+ year event should not have been a pawn in that game, especially since women’s/girl’s soccer is so huge in Canberra.

    Estelle Withers Estelle Withers 11:15 pm 30 Jun 20

    Totally agree. We need the proposed 40,000 seat stadium at Civic asap to attract major events to town and allows other codes to keep playing at GIO so no one misses out

    Geoff Vines Geoff Vines 7:28 am 01 Jul 20

    Matt White I see Alistair Coe and the Libs have contacted FFA seeking to renegotiate Canberra hosting games. Hope they’re successful. Would be a total missed opportunity if Labor lets this one fly through to the keeper

    Peadar Macmanus Peadar Macmanus 7:48 am 02 Jul 20

    Geoff Vines ah, mr barr - has he ever made a good decision?

    Geoff Vines Geoff Vines 8:05 am 02 Jul 20

    Peadar Macmanus he may have, back around 86/87

    Geoff Vines Geoff Vines 12:30 pm 02 Jul 20

    Peadar Macmanus he may have, back around 86/87

Shan Weereratne Shan Weereratne 4:59 pm 30 Jun 20

Absolute shame. Soccer is so popular among juniors in Canberra. Barr will be more focussed on forking out our taxpayer money to some out of town AFL team who don't have any affiliation to the territory.

    Damien Kell Damien Kell 1:32 am 01 Jul 20

    Shan Weereratne so, unhappy to pay for GWS games because they supposedly have no affiliation with Canberra but happy to pay, probably more, to have someone like Thailand vs Nigeria play because they have such a strong affiliation with Canberra???

    Shan Weereratne Shan Weereratne 7:30 am 01 Jul 20

    Damien Kell, in that case why even bother hosting the Olympic games or T20 cricket? Why did Canberra show interest in

    hosting a few games in the last failed bid for the mens soccer. Did they believe Canberra was expected to host a Brazil v France encounter if they were successful?

    On GWS, if they are so affiliated to the ACT, they could rename themselves as GWS-Canberra the least. Perhaps they need more cash from us to even consider.

Stephen Page-Murray Stephen Page-Murray 4:42 pm 30 Jun 20

No great loss

Barry Finch Barry Finch 4:37 pm 30 Jun 20

I suggest that there is far more to supporting a world-class female sports event or not than just $. How about a bigger picture perspective and 'investment' in supporting the sport and the thousands of younger players and those who are yet to become younger players. This is an international event and as Canberra is the capital of our nation it should be one of the hosts.

    Ashley Wright Ashley Wright 6:28 am 01 Jul 20

    Barry Finch oddly that is exactly what they are doing. Money that would have been spent on hosting a game is being invested into the sport. Though it is being invested at the local level rather than hosting a game or two.

Brad Waters Brad Waters 4:29 pm 30 Jun 20

Myopic. Rejects the earnings that cohosting the 3rd largest sporting event in the world would bring to commerce, but pays rate-payer $ to coax another city’s aussie rules team to play in Canberra. Nuts.

    Jason Good Jason Good 4:31 pm 30 Jun 20

    Brad Waters exactly, World Cup would bring international visitors to Canberra, not just bogans from Sydney 😂

Stephen Mee Stephen Mee 4:25 pm 30 Jun 20

More people would turn up to watch soccer, than any GWS game.

Stephen Saunders Stephen Saunders 4:20 pm 30 Jun 20

From a national perspective, it is ludicrous that Brisbane gets the Melbourne semi (thanks for that, AFL) and Canberra zilch.

Where was the federal sports minister? Probably intent on something really important, like a colour-coded spreadsheet.

Jason Good Jason Good 4:19 pm 30 Jun 20

And GWS Giants games don’t cost money to host? This is the worst move ever, first time in World Cup history, women’s or men’s, that no games will be played in the capital city of a host nation!

    Leigh Brady Leigh Brady 7:33 pm 30 Jun 20

    Apparently those games brings a massive amount of cash into town. And they cost a bunch less

Taryn Powick Taryn Powick 4:07 pm 30 Jun 20

While I’m super disappointed by this, the costs to host games are not insignificant. Especially in the current climate any saving of costs on short-term “investment” is probably sensible, really. Hosting games might bring a small boost to the economy for a short period of time, but it would be at the cost of millions in tax-payers $$.

    Mark Valerius Mark Valerius 9:57 pm 30 Jun 20

    ”small boost”? Really? A small boost from the third largest sporting event in the planet??. The spin off wins for this city would be immense.

    Taryn Powick Taryn Powick 10:48 pm 30 Jun 20

    Mark Valerius to host a handful of games? “Immense” economical benefits would be amazing! I don’t doubt that thought crossed the Government’s mind. I imagine their financial analysts and experts probably have more information available to them and more experience than us to determine what those benefits are actually likely to be.

    As I said, I’m disappointed there won’t be games here. But it is what it is.

    I’d like to see more investment at a local level first, to build awareness and more support for the sport.

    If the ACT Government put a small percentage of the amount of ‘would be’ investment into small local sporting businesses, local clubs and Capital Football then we’d see more growth in the sport in coming years and the local support would be far greater and the longer term impacts would be more positive.

    But this is just me speculating...

    it also probably doesn’t help the consideration process when we can’t even win a bid for an A-league team.

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