The ACT Government is right to walk away from the Women’s World Cup

Tim Gavel 30 June 2020 65
Asian Cup 2015 at Canberra Stadium. Photo: Tim Gavel.

Canberra can attract large crowds to international football events as shown by the 2015 AFC Asian Cup. Photo: Tim Gavel.

The Canberra Football community has had an interesting relationship with sports decisionmakers at both a national and international level.

You only have to go back to the frustrations associated with the two bids for an A-League team in Canberra.

In 2009 the FFA told us that if a crowd of at least 20,000 turned out at Canberra Stadium for the Socceroos game against Kuwait, the bid for an A-League side would be looked upon favourably.

A total of 20,032 turned out that night.

Apparently it meant little as the goalposts had shifted. A poor turnout for a subsequent A-League game held in Canberra six months later was deemed fatal to the bid.

Instead, the licence was offered to the Sydney Rovers in September 2009. But the Rovers, based in western Sydney, were eventually declined entry to the A-League by the FFA for the 2011-12 season and their conditional licence was withdrawn.

This made way for the Western Sydney Wanderers, which made its debut in the 2012-2013 season.

The latest bid to have an A-League side in Canberra also fell short despite reassuring tones from the decisionmakers throughout the process.

The latest revelations about the demands put to the ACT Government from the organisers of the 2023 Women’s Football World Cup to host matches at Canberra Stadium should then come as no surprise.

If the reported figure of $1 million per game for six matches, or $2 million a game if we hosted three matches are close to the mark, it’s no wonder the ACT Government rejected the deal.

To make the proposal even more unpalatable, the revenue from ticket sales was to go to the organisers. And, by the way, there would be no guarantee that the Matildas would be playing here.

If that wasn’t enough of a deterrent, the organisers wanted exclusive use of Canberra Stadium for three months, effectively shutting out all activity at the ground apart from the World Cup, including the Raiders and the Brumbies!

In the end, it came down to the ACT Government considering the benefits to the city’s ratepayers of hosting games.

I believe the ACT Government had no choice but to reject the demands.

The hope now is that Canberra can be added to the list of venues without this deal, but it’s unlikely.

Despite agreeing with the ACT Government’s decision, I still consider the Women’s World Cup to be a once in a lifetime event. It also has the potential to inspire a generation, and clearly Canberra should be part of the event given the city’s track record in women’s sport.

I would even go as far as to say that the ACT is Australia’s top region when it comes to the promotion and support of women’s sport. That support, though, shouldn’t be taken for granted, and the asking price for the World Cup is simply way beyond reach.

There is still hope, however. There exists the possibility of Canberra hosting the Matilda’s in a warm-up game or being named as a base for visiting teams.

The ACT has, in the past, come across as somewhat desperate to get major sporting events to Canberra. As a result, we could be considered an easy target for the demands of event organisers.

Surely we have had enough of outside sporting teams and organisers of events prophesying about enhancing the brand of their code, emphasising how important Canberra is to their particular sport, and how their sport or event would benefit the community etcetera. You get the picture. And then there’s always the sucker punch: hand over a truckload of money and the event can be delivered to your city.

In making this latest decision, perhaps the ACT Government has shown a considerable level of maturity. The decision suggests that if sports organisations are serious about playing in Canberra, they should be doing it for reasons other than just drawing money from our community.


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65 Responses to The ACT Government is right to walk away from the Women’s World Cup
Claire Foster Claire Foster 11:10 pm 03 Jul 20

Tara May just as you suggested.. but even more ridiculous

Robyn Hayes Robyn Hayes 8:07 pm 03 Jul 20

I don’t blame the ACT government on this occasion. That stadium would be a big embarrassment

Felix Ford Felix Ford 10:30 pm 02 Jul 20

Alexandra Mackay interesting

    Alexandra Mackay Alexandra Mackay 10:31 pm 02 Jul 20

    Felix Ford I’m gonna pretend I’m not upset but might mean Sydney trips ...

Lyn Mellier Lyn Mellier 5:25 pm 02 Jul 20

Surely the benefits of hosting some games in the ACT would outweigh the costs? What a pity to pass up such an opportunity.

    Greg Stone Greg Stone 5:39 pm 02 Jul 20

    what benefits? We don’t get any of the ticket sales, costs of $1m+ per game to host, then add the fact they need exclusive access to the stadium for 4 weeks meaning Raiders and Brumbies can’t play at home. The cons outweigh the pros massively. I’d love to see games here but I can completely understand why we aren’t having any here

    Lyn Mellier Lyn Mellier 6:45 pm 02 Jul 20

    Greg Stone That was just my opinion & I noticed many others think the same as me.

    Matty Vest Matty Vest 10:50 am 03 Jul 20

    Also the fact that if we were to host we'd get games of absolutely no significance

    Ashley Wright Ashley Wright 3:14 pm 03 Jul 20

    Greg Stone 4 weeks exclusive access? The requirement was for 3 months in the middle of the football season.

    Tim Hough Tim Hough 9:50 pm 04 Jul 20

    That's some crazy conditions. I'd only find them borderline acceptable if we were guaranteed a Matildas match, but even then they are a stretch. Do we know if they had the same conditions for other venues?

Paul Gigg Paul Gigg 11:26 am 02 Jul 20

Penalty Broncos.

Garry Inglebert Humperdink Galli Garry Inglebert Humperdink Galli 8:35 am 02 Jul 20

The reality is there isn’t enough interest in women’s soccer to justify the money, let’s be real.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 5:39 pm 03 Jul 20

    To be fair, soccer played by women is more bearable to watch than that being played by men. Having said that, the game itself is totally boring with the acknowledged athleticism of some of the players being cancelled totally by others who are prone to taking a dive and the referees that condone it.

Rob Thomas Rob Thomas 4:14 am 02 Jul 20

I blame the Tram.

Gerald Crawford Gerald Crawford 3:47 am 02 Jul 20

…..and exactly how much does the ACT government pay towards an Australian Rules football club playing any games in the ACT, every year?

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 10:36 am 02 Jul 20

    About $2.1 million a year for the benefit of the few people who follow AFL.

Kate Rose Kate Rose 10:38 pm 01 Jul 20

Aisling Visser rip but will definitely make our journey to every game in the world cup a little bit more ~exotic~

Imogen Rayner Imogen Rayner 10:33 pm 01 Jul 20

Sophia Mellink SORRY WHAT

    Sophia Mellink Sophia Mellink 11:34 pm 01 Jul 20

    Imogen Rayner it allegedly cost the government $1m to even be able to host a game, not counting stadium costs, etc., so probably a fair decision aye

Sam Pollard Sam Pollard 9:28 pm 01 Jul 20

Antony Ceruti not here after all!

agent86 agent86 9:27 pm 01 Jul 20

I have little interest in soccer. Having said that, I appreciate it is disappointing for local supporters that they don’t get a ‘local’ game. So change the plan, put in your best effort to get a team to use Canberra as their home base, get the region to support the team (Matildas are still first :-)) Try and book a stand and get on a bus from a local bus company and go to Sydney and watch a game. Take food from a local company with you on the bus and have a picnic…somewhere. The WWC is in Australia, use that to your advantage.
Oh and ‘Expand the A-League’, the author of the article is Tim Gavel, never would he ever suggest any person ‘that they’re not worth it’. I would suggest you educate yourself about Mr Gavel.

Bernard Eddey Bernard Eddey 9:10 pm 01 Jul 20

This is my response from the Chief Minister's office when I asked 'Why no WWC game'.

Thank you for your email to the Chief Minister.

The ACT Government carefully considered the cost and implications of being a host city and determined that it was just not economic and the asking price was too high for the sorts of matches the ACT would have hosted. The cost was exorbitant and would have been among the most expensive events ever run in the ACT.

Rather than spending millions of dollars on one or two games of football that weren’t going to involve the Australian team, the ACT Government is instead investing $20 million in a new ‘Home of Football’ in partnership with Capital Football and Football Federation Australia (FFA) to create a lasting legacy for grassroots. The facility, to be built at Throsby, will include multiple outdoor fields, indoor futsal courts, office space for Capital Football staff and associated amenities. The new headquarters for football in the ACT is expected to be operational during the second half of 2021.

In addition to the $20 million investment from the Government, Capital Football is contributing a further $4.5 million. As part of the partnership, the FFA will be bringing three elite games to Canberra over the next 18 months, including Matildas and Socceroos matches.

Canberra is a sports loving city. As Canberra grows we are committed to delivering more sporting facilities. This Facility, like others around Canberra, will provide an important community hub, encourage families to stay active and provide a place for young Canberrans to progress from grassroots to elite sport if that’s their dream.

    Christopher James Clarke Christopher James Clarke 9:21 pm 01 Jul 20

    Bernard Eddey that's a pretty good response to be honest

    Phil Slater Phil Slater 4:49 pm 03 Jul 20

    Christopher James Clarke and now we here the indoor stadium at the AIS is doomed. Buildings in Canberra are not built to last.

    Ashley Wright Ashley Wright 9:18 pm 03 Jul 20

    Phil Slater buildings not built to last? Seriously?

    Phil Slater Phil Slater 9:33 pm 03 Jul 20

    Ashley Wright yep. When compared with buildings around the world. Maybe i should have said maintained accordingly.

    Joanne Coleman Joanne Coleman 11:06 pm 03 Jul 20

    A couple of interesting reads Chris Hollier

Edward McCarthy Edward McCarthy 8:18 pm 01 Jul 20

What's a couple million against a billion dollar light rail 🤔🤔

Denis Svob Denis Svob 8:06 pm 01 Jul 20

Let’s start a petition to overturn this decision!

    John Madelly John Madelly 11:26 am 03 Jul 20

    Small parochial government wants our city to mimic other cities, but sadly, does not wish to be part of a world wide event of the biggest game in the world.

Michael Gardner Michael Gardner 7:28 pm 01 Jul 20

Bruce Millar this is why no games are coming here in 2023

Sesha Reddy Sesha Reddy 7:15 pm 01 Jul 20

Narayan Verma Matthew Barton wtf they must be kidding

Steven Ilic Steven Ilic 7:08 pm 01 Jul 20

Disgraceful, short minded decision by the Government, way to be in the wrong side of history 👍

Rob Giglioni Rob Giglioni 6:11 pm 01 Jul 20

Bro the money it will bring to the city will be far greater than the cost.

Expand the A-League Expand the A-League 5:46 pm 01 Jul 20

The WWC might have been the most expensive event ever held in Canberra, but it would have also been the biggest event. You can’t be what you can’t see, but unfortunately for the young girls in Canberra that might otherwise have been inspired by the biggest show this town has ever seen, they’ve been told that they’re not worth it by their government and by the writer of this article.

Did the author of this article expect to get games there for free? Does he think FIFA getting the ticket revenue for their own tournament is news? If the ACT should get part of the gate takings then FIFA should get a commission from hotel, taxi, restaurant, cafe, supermarket etc. revenue from the tourists that their event would have brought in.

The author is going to show evidence of his extraordinary claim of the demand for exclusive access for three months. I haven’t seen any reports of any of the other venues in the bid being subject to this.

Fair play to complain about not having an A-League team, but neglecting to mention that they’ve had a W-League team for years in an article about the Women’s World Cup is disingenuous at best.

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