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Fed set to keep interest rates near zero until at least 2023


In its policy statement, the Fed also began to pivot from stabilising financial markets to stimulating the economy: the Fed said it would keep its current government bond-buying at least at the current pace of $US120 billion ($164 billion) per month, but described the goal as in part to ensure “accommodative” financial conditions in the future.

US stocks added to earlier gains after the release of the Fed statement, but slid lower as Powell spoke. In late trade, the Dow Jones is up 0.4 per cent, the S&P 500 has lost 0.2 per cent and the Nasdaq has slid 1 per cent. Futures at 4.58am AEST are pointing to a loss of 10 points, or 0.2 per cent, at the open for the ASX.

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The coronavirus epidemic continued to weigh on the economy, the Fed said in the statement, released after the end of its latest two-day policy meeting, even as officials upgraded their immediate outlook for the economy.

The virus “is causing tremendous human and economic hardship,” the rate-setting Federal Open Market Committee said. “The Federal Reserve is committed to using its full range of tools to support the US economy in this challenging time.”

New economic projections released with the policy statement showed interest rates on hold through at least 2023, with inflation never breaching 2 per cent over that time. Policymakers saw the economy shrinking 3.7 per cent this year, far less than the 6.5 per cent decline forecast in June, and unemployment, which registered 8.4 per cent in August, was seen falling to 7.6 per cent by the end of the year.

All Fed policymakers saw rates staying where they are through 2022, with four eying the need for an increase in 2023.

Dissents

But in pledging to keep rates low until inflation was moving above the 2 per cent target, to make up for years spent below it, the Fed reflected its new tilt towards stronger job growth, announced late last month after a nearly two-year review.

Both dissenters to the statement, Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan and Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari, took specific issue with the central bank’s guidance that it would keep interest rates where they are “until labour market conditions have reached levels consistent with … maximum employment and inflation has risen to 2 per cent and is on track to moderately exceed 2 per cent for some time.”

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Kaplan said he would have preferred to have “greater flexibility” once inflation and maximum employment were on track to reaching the Fed’s goals, an easier hurdle to reach. Kashkari’s dissent suggests he wanted a higher hurdle: for rates to stay where they are until core inflation – which often runs cooler than overall inflation – has reached 2 per cent “on a sustained basis.”

More to come

Reuters

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Australian News

Virgin boss says no overseas trips until 2023


Virgin chief executive officer Paul Scurrah says there may be no return to overseas flights for the airline for up to three years, after the COVID-19 pandemic decimated the travel industry.

The airline announced on Wednesday the Tigerair discount airline would be axed, and 3000 jobs would be lost across the company as part of its relaunch under administrators Bain Capital.

Long-haul flights have also been put on hold for the foreseeable future.

Mr Scurrah told 2GB making the cuts had been a “heartbreaking” addition to an already “sad year” for the airline and aviation industry, but there had been no other way forward for the business.

“We do aspire to fly long haul again, we just can’t see it coming back in the next few years,” he said.

Those working for Virgin in international flights, the Tigerair brand and in regional areas are most likely to feel the weight of the cuts, with staff being offered voluntary redundancy packages first.

Mr Scurrah said he hoped to be able to invite about 2000 staff back when the industry had recovered from the pandemic, which has seen many countries shut their borders and all but put an end to international travel.

In a statement released on Wednesday, Mr Scurrah revealed many Australian airports were recording passenger numbers of less than 3 per cent than the same time last year.

Customers who had flights booked with Virgin that they are no longer able to take will receive a credit with the airline, guaranteed by Bain Capital, to be used on any Virgin service up to June 2023.

“The industry will be well up and running by then, in our view, and that provides the opportunity for people to get the value they have in their tickets,” Mr Scurrah said on Thursday.



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Women’s World Cup 2023 hosting will see Matildas joyfully join the mainstream


Australia’s newest footballing superstar is something of a link between the old and the new of women’s football.

Ellie Carpenter is only 20 but she’s already been a top-level footballer for six years and a Matilda for five. And the kid from Cowra just signed with the best team in the world, Olympique Lyonnais.

Her memories of going to watch her first Matildas game as a little girl are, frankly, not that distant.

She recalls seeing the Australian team in Parramatta as an eight-year-old and thinking: “I want to be part of that one day.”

Now very much a part of the national team setup with 31 appearances to her name, the classy right-back will very likely be in the thick of things when Australia and New Zealand host the Women’s World Cup in three years’ time.

The trans-Tasman bid successfully saw off its only challenger, Colombia, and outlasted strong bids from Japan and Brazil, to the elation of the Australian football community, especially those involved in the women’s game.

Fiona Crawford, the co-author of the book Never Say Die: The Hundred-Year Overnight Success of Australian Women’s Football, says co-hosting the World Cup was the next obvious step in the trajectory of the Matildas.

“They’ve made some incredible gains on and off the pitch in recent years. Hosting the Women’s World Cup cements and extends those,” she said.

“Two of the most common themes that emerged during the book interviews were that the current and former Matildas were invariably the only girls in the boys’ teams and that they often did not know you could pursue a career as a female footballer and/or play for the national team.

“The Matildas’ most senior players are, hopefully, the last to remember what it’s like to carve out a football career without pay above the poverty line, clearly defined pathways or female football heroes to emulate.

“So the [Clare] Polkinghornes, [Lisa] De Vannas and the Meeks [Tameka Yallop] and KKs [Elise Kellond-Knight] who were the only girls on the boys’ teams.

“And they’re playing alongside the first generation of players who are starting to benefit from the inroads previous generations have made.

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‘A historical day for Australian football’, FFA CEO celebrates successful bid

“I think that demonstrates the changing landscape and the growth, and it’s a really interesting intersection of female footballing experiences.”

Carpenter’s face already appears on shampoo bottles and her Matildas teammate, Chelsea signing and Young Australian of the Year Sam Kerr is a bona fide celebrity, but she believes hosting this tournament will further move women’s football into the mainstream.

“Just imagine what a World Cup will do, with young girls and boys being inspired by us,” Carpenter told the ABC.

“I think it will boost Australia in football so much. I feel like it will change the sport forever and inspire so many kids to play the game.”

‘Unsafe, immodest’: The obstacles overcome have made this achievement even sweeter

A number of Matildas players embrace and smile in celebration.
Until recently, female footballers essentially had to pay to play. Now many of them are becoming household names.(AAP: James Elsby)

In Australia, women’s football has overcome myriad obstacles, says Crawford.

“They included suggestions that playing football was medically unsafe or immodest, which saw a concerted push to get women to play more ‘feminine’ sports such as netball, vigoro, or hockey instead.

“They’ve included a lack of access to quality training facilities, kits, injury prevention and rehabilitation, wages, or coaching.

“In 2014, Katrina Gorry flew back from being feted at a black-tie ceremony where she was named the best female footballer in Asia to work shifts at a local cafe.

“Her circumstances showed you could literally be the best female player in Asia and still not earn enough to cover your expenses.”

Crawford says that until recently, female footballers essentially had to pay to play, including covering their own medical insurance, which has also meant they’ve had to juggle work commitments and rehab among training commitments.

“We’ve expected professional footballer commitment and results while paying an amateur wage.”

On-field improvement hugely important in bid success, but Matildas aiming even higher

An Australian Matildas player dribbling the ball against Thailand.
Ellie Carpenter will be 23 when the World Cup takes place.(AAP: Mark Nolan)

Carpenter says the ever-growing reputation and improving performances of the seventh-ranked Matildas on the pitch made the bid even more viable, but hosting the World Cup could see them achieve something even greater.

“At major tournaments we have shown what we’re capable of but we haven’t quite played to our potential I don’t think, bowing out a few times with penalties, but in 2023 we’ll have a long preparation and be at our peak as a team.

Crawford agrees that all the elements have come together nicely for the team.

“I think it was the right application at the right time. The Matildas’ on-pitch success combined with a realistic, appropriately costed, commercially viable application was key; Asia being a growing football market and Australia being a safe, tourism-friendly, sport-oriented place would have helped too.

“And with the pandemic, seemingly insurmountable issues such as Australia’s and New Zealand’s geographic isolation are suddenly looking a lot more like perks. Who’d have thought?

“As corny as it might sound, I’ll be just stoked for the Matildas to be competitive and for people to get a chance to appreciate the women’s game — for women’s participation in football to be normalised and celebrated, and for the next generation of players to be able to see what’s possible.

“10,000 people turned up to the first documented women’s game in Australia in 1920. Around 17,000 people turned up to a sold-out Matildas match in 2017. More than a billion people tuned in to watch the 2019 Women’s World Cup final. So the game’s growing.

“I’m really, really looking forward to Australia and New Zealand falling in love with the women’s game.”

Carpenter, at the dawn of what could be a glittering European club career, says the looming home World Cup can’t be her main focus for now, but the excitement is already bubbling.

“We’re going to get the chance to show the football community around the world what our country is and how beautiful it is,” she said.

“The tournament brings the whole world to the country so having everyone come here and being broadcast all over the world, that just brings so much attention to us as the Matildas, opening up all sorts of opportunities.

“It’s definitely a case of now just wanting 2023 to hurry up and get here.”



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Winning the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup bid is our biggest moment in sport since the Sydney Olympics


Of all the goals scored for women’s sport in this country, FIFA’s decision to award Australia and New Zealand the 2023 Women’s World Cup has to be the most spectacular of all.

Despite UEFA’s last-minute decision to support the Colombia bid as a bloc causing some jitters, 22 votes sealed the deal against Colombia’s 13.

Australia had cause to be sceptical about the process, after the bitter disappointment of its bid for the 2022 men’s version only attracting one vote in a process mired by corruption.

But not this time.

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Not only is the FIFA Women’s World Cup the biggest global event in women’s sport, its popularity continues to grow in record-breaking numbers.

The most recent tournament, held in France in 2019, drew 1.12 billion viewers, with the average live match audience more than doubling from the previous edition in Canada.

This is why Thursday morning’s decision should be seen as the biggest moment for Australian sport since the choice to award the Olympics to Sydney in 2000.

‘The holy grail’

It’s a sentiment shared by Ros Moriarty, chair of Football Federation Australia’s Women’s Football Council.

“It is the holy grail. I think when the conversation stops being quite as gendered, people will realise this is actually brilliant for the whole game and what football can offer to society as a whole,” Moriarty said.

Nevertheless, Moriarty said the Women’s Council were focused on ensuring the tournament provided for an “enduring and profound legacy” for reshaping women’s football — and sport — in Australia.

“This is transformational,” said Moriarty. “This is an opportunity that rarely comes along, [in terms of] the size of the event, the kind of numbers that came out of France, the audience, reach [and] the kind of investment that will be made possible.”

Over the past four years, the number of women and girls registered to play football in Australia has grown by 21 per cent (including 11 per cent in 2019 alone), and Moriarty said the tournament provided an opportunity to go beyond the Women’s Council’s goal of doubling participation in the next decade.

“I think we really need to look at accelerating what we had hoped to achieve even without this catalyst,” she said.

“We also need to tackle the [other] big issues in the game, such as women having more prominence in sport, women as leaders in the game, women as decision-makers in the game, and making sure those benefits flow right across the Asian and the Pacific regions.”

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Officials and players celebrate after learning Australia and New Zealand will host the World Cup.

Women’s sport was a casualty of coronavirus

Former Matildas captain and current deputy chief executive of the players’ association Kate Gill shares Moriarty’s desire for the 2023 World Cup to provide an enduring legacy for women’s football and sport in the region.

In particular, Gill said the announcement was the perfect tonic to a pandemic that had exposed the fragility of support and investment for women’s sport across the globe.

“It has been a worry for women’s sport that it has [in some cases] been the first casualty of COVID-19,” Gill said. “It’s the easy expense in the budget just to draw a line through, and it’s not the right one.”

Gill pointed to FIFA’s announcement late last year that it would invest $1 billion into women’s football over the next four years as proof there were “no more excuses”.

“Now we have time to rebuild with genuine intent and focus that women and women in football are truly partners, and it’s not just tokenism.”

Gill said she believed that recent wins for gender equality — such as the 2019 collective bargaining agreement which saw the Matildas and Socceroos enter into a ground-breaking revenue-sharing deal — had been pivotal to Australia and New Zealand’s successful bid.

Moving forward, however, Gill argues there is a need to maintain focus on addressing all aspects of equality in football, including re-igniting the PFA’s campaign for equal prize money at the pinnacle tournament, which had a gender pay gap of $370m in 2018-19.

“It’s all part of being genuine and respectful and dignifying the careers of women in sport and women in football — those are the things we need to bring to fruition and keep fighting for. With football and sport, there’s a great sense that, if we can transcend those barriers, then society can achieve them as well.”

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‘A historical day for Australian football’, FFA CEO celebrates successful bid

The whole of Australia can get behind this

Perhaps one of the greatest opportunities the tournament provides is the opportunity for football to penetrate the further reaches of Australia and New Zealand, not just the usual suspects in east coast capital cities such as Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

Games will also be played in smaller locations such as Launceston and Newcastle in Australia (with its recent history of record crowds for Matildas matches) and Dunedin and Christchurch in New Zealand.

Off the back of recent initiatives such as the Indigenous national football championships, which began in 2018, the number of women and girls from Indigenous and culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds participating in football has doubled over a 12-month period to 11,000.

With the possible appearance of Indigenous role-models such as Lydia Williams and Kyah Simon in 2023, the Australia and New Zealand bid has a serious chance to embody the inclusive bid it sold so successfully to the football world.

The pressure is now on for the Matildas to better their quarter finals knockout in France in front of a home crowd.

But all the ingredients are there to make this the Matilda’s most successful World Cup yet.



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FFA boss James Johnson fumes at ‘disrespectful’ English FA for voting against Australian’s 2023 Women’s World Cup bid


The English FA’s decision to snub the trans-Tasman Women’s World Cup bid has been labelled disrespectful by FFA chief executive James Johnson.

Despite scoring 4.1 out of five in a FIFA evaluation report compared to Colombia’s 2.9 score, the combined Australia and New Zealand bid was overlooked by English FA chairman Greg Clarke in the vote at the FIFA council meeting.

Clarke’s vote was part of a block decision by the UEFA confederation, which made up eight of the 13 votes Colombia was awarded in total.

While it had little impact on the final margin, with the Australia and New Zealand bid claiming 22 votes, the snub by England left Johnson fuming.

“I actually don’t find it very funny,” Johnson told Fox Sports.

“I think that was quite disrespectful to be perfectly honest with you.

“It was a process that was, I think, run very well by FIFA. We scored very highly on a report that was an objective report.

“We know now what the voting was like, and I must say we are disappointed with the way that the FA voted.”

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Clarke’s decision to align with the Colombian bid appeared set when reports emerged before the vote he had refused to take a phone call from New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

Europe’s decision to snub Australia was no issue after FIFA chairman Gianni Infantino, and the CAF (Africa) and CONCACAF (North America) delegates backed the trans-Tasman bid.

Johnson said overall he was happy with FIFA’s voting process, which has been revamped following the controversial decision to award Qatar the 2022 World Cup.

“The way that the reports were drafted, and the way the scoring went, I think was reflective of the work that certainly our bid had done,” he said.

“There’s always a little bit of angst when you get into the political part of the process but I think it’s a fair process, the voting will often reflect the bid evaluation report and I think that’s where we landed.”

Infantino admitted he was surprised to see a block vote in favour of Colombia from football’s most powerful confederation but refused to criticise the decision, calling it “democracy”.

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‘A historical day for Australian football’, FFA CEO celebrates successful bid

UEFA said in a statement their vote for Colombia was an attempt to try to increase the growth of the women’s game in South America and their block vote was a solidarity agreement by the European members of the FIFA Council.

“It was a choice between two countries — Australia and New Zealand — where women’s football is already strongly established, and a continent where it still has to be firmly implanted and has a huge development potential.”

AAP



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Australia and New Zealand are hosting the FIFA 2023 Women’s World Cup. Here’s how the tournament will work


It’s official — the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup is heading to Australia and New Zealand.

In what is one of the biggest boosts football and women’s sport in Australia has ever received, the world’s attention will be turned down under for a month-long football festival.

Here’s everything you need to know about how the tournament will work.

When will the tournament take place?

The dates FIFA has nominated for the tournament to take place are between July 10 to August 10, 2023.

This, being the southern hemisphere winter, would make playing conditions perfect across the two host countries.

Sam Kerr celebrates a goal by giving a high five to a teammate as she runs away from the camera
Playing conditions will be perfect during the Australia-New Zealand winter.(AP: Laurent Cipriani)

There is no clash with either the A-League or W-League, but the grass-roots state-based competitions will be running at the same time in both countries — considered a bonus for the bid team to drive engagement.

When it comes to potential clashes, the elephants in the room are the NRL and AFL competitions in Australia, and provincial rugby union competition in New Zealand.

However, the bid team state they have “secured the support and commitment of other sports to collaborate on the delivery of the tournament” — which was not the case for the ill-fated 2022 bid.

Where will the games be played?

The bid proposes 13 stadiums in 12 cities across Australia and New Zealand, telling FIFA it would prefer a minimum of 10 to be used — five in each country.

FIFA has the final say, but noted all the proposed stadiums performed strongly against the required criteria.

Selfie with Samantha Kerr
Matildas fans will have a golden opportunity to see a World Cup on home soil.(Australian Story: Jennifer Feller)

Eden Park in Auckland is down to host the opening game, with Stadium Australia in Sydney pencilled in for the final.

The planned redevelopment of Sydney Olympic stadium into a 70,000-seat, rectangular facility was recently put on ice, but FIFA demands the World Cup final is played in a venue with a minimum capacity of 55,000 — and Homebush is the only place that fulfils that criteria, redeveloped or not.

Stadium City Capacity
Stadium Australia Sydney 70,000*
Eden Park Auckland 48,276
Hindmarsh stadium Adelaide 18,435
Lang Park Brisbane 52,263
Christchurch stadium Christchurch 22,556
Dunedin stadium Dunedin 28,744
Waikato stadium Hamilton 25,111
York Park Launceston 22,065
AAMI Park Melbourne 30,052
Newcastle stadium Newcastle 25,945
Perth Oval Perth 22,225
Sydney Football Stadium Sydney 42,512
Wellington Regional Stadium Wellington 39,000

*Redeveloped capacity. Current capacity is 82,500.

The bid team is banking on welcoming 1.5 million fans through the gates across those venues for an average of 24,000 spectators per game, which would make it the most well-supported women’s World Cup in history.

How many teams will there be?

The 2023 Women’s World Cup will feature 32 teams, up from the 24 that competed in France in 2019.

US women's soccer team celebrate winning 2019 world cup
The reigning champions, the USA, will likely be one of 32 teams at the World Cup.(AP: Alessandra Tarantino)

There will be eight groups of four teams in the initial stages, split evenly between Australia and New Zealand.

Qualification will start next year — contingent on an easing of the global coronavirus pandemic.

As with the men’s tournament, the hosts qualify automatically. In the instance of a joint bid, both teams get the nod.

The breakdown of how many teams will be able to qualify from each confederation will be determined in due course.

Who will be the favourites?

It’s not too much of a stretch to say our Matildas will be among the teams most likely to lift the cup at the end of the tournament.

Australian women’s football has been going through its own “golden generation” in recent years, and it now looks like it could time its crescendo perfectly at a World Cup in its own backyard.

Two soccer players face off each other for the ball
The USWNT and the Netherlands faced off in the 2019 final.(AP: Francisco Seco)

They’ll have to get through the usual juggernauts though, most notably the USA. The US Women’s National Team has won the World Cup four times, including at the past two tournaments in 2015 and 2019.

Of the European contingent Germany, France, the Netherlands and Sweden are all strong, while England has enjoyed a rise in recent years. And while Australia is currently ranked higher than Brazil, it would be foolish to count the South Americans out.

But with three years until kick off, there is plenty of water to go under the bridge. Australia will spend those three years preparing for its chance on its biggest stage ever.



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Australia, New Zealand’s winning bid to host 2023 Women’s World Cup sends fans wild


Aussie and Kiwi football fans are celebrating after Australia and New Zealand won their joint bid to host the 2023 Women’s World Cup.

The winning bid was announced in the early hours of Friday morning, following a tight vote among FIFA delegates.

“We did it! We are hosting the 2023 FIFAWWC!” Australia’s Matildas exclaimed on Twitter.

New Zealand’s Football Ferns also rejoiced at the news, tweeting: “Still awake and very, very excited in Auckland”.

The trans-Tasman bid was up against Colombia, which was reportedly argued by UEFA, the powerful ruling body of European football, as the better place to help drive change for women’s football.

MORE: What you need to know about the tournament

But Australia and New Zealand received the highest score in FIFA’s technical evaluation – earning 4.1 out of five in the report compared to Colombia’s 2.8.

The joint bid was also considered more commercially lucrative – a compelling factor for FIFA.

“The opportunity to play in a home FIFA Women’s World Cup is something every footballer dreams of and I am looking forward to seeing those dreams come true,” Matildas captain Samantha Kerr said.

“Playing for the Matildas in Australia will be the highlight of my career and an opportunity to inspire girls, both in Australia and New Zealand, and all over the world to play football.

“We have seen great progress in the women’s game and Australia-New Zealand will take the game to a whole new level.”

Football Ferns captain Ali Riley, who shared an emotional photo of herself on Twitter with tears in her eyes, also said it was a “truly special” moment.

“To lead the Football Ferns in a home FIFA Women’s World Cup in New Zealand will be truly special and inspire a new generation of Football Ferns,” she said.

Bleary-eyed fans who stayed up to watch the announcement described the win as “overwhelming”.

“Not often I’m awake and in tears at 2am, but this did it and these are happy tears,” one woman wrote on Twitter.

“In disbelief over how far we’ve come. From having to beg to be allowed to play a ‘boy’s sport’ to getting the 2023 FIFAWWC. This means everything and it’s almost overwhelming.”

“Unbelievable places, full of amazing people! This one will be epic. Congratulations … let the dreaming commence,” another wrote.

The Sydney Opera House and Auckland’s Sky Tower were lit up on Thursday to celebrate the joint bid.

It will be the first ever FIFA Women’s World Cup to be held in the Asia-Pacific region, and the first ever to be held in the southern hemisphere.

– With wires



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Australia and New Zealand win bid to to host 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup



Australia and New Zealand have been successful in their historic joint bid to host the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

The trans-Tasman bid beat out that of final rival Colombia by 22 votes to 13 at the FIFA council meeting in Zurich early this morning.

The tournament will be the first-ever co-Confederation hosted FIFA World Cup (Australia, being part of the Asian football confederation and New Zealand a member of the Oceanic branch), as well as the first-ever FIFA Women’s World Cup to be held in the Asia-Pacific region.

More to come.



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FIFA 2023 World Cup for Australia-New Zealand will uncover next generation of Matildas says Caitlin Foord


Caitlin Foord was just 16 years and eight months old when she had her first taste of World Cup football, a one-nil loss to Brazil in the first round of the 2011 women’s World Cup in Germany.

Today the 25-year-old from the NSW south coast is a veteran of three World Cups and believes hosting the tournament in Australia and New Zealand would be a game-changer for the sport domestically.

“To have any major football tournament in Australia let alone a World Cup is something Australia has never seen before,” Foord said.

“I think it will do massive things for the game in Australia for both girls and boys growing up playing football.

Australia will learn at 2:00am AEST on Friday whether it will be hosting the women’s FIFA 2023 World Cup alongside New Zealand with Colombia remaining the only rival bid after Japan withdrew from contention.

With the memories of Australia’s unsuccessful bid for the 2022 men’s competition lingering, the FFA will be reluctant to count its chickens before they hatch.

But Foord said if the bid was successful, hosting the tournament would be a testament to the growing popularity of the Matildas.

“As the years have gone on you can feel Australia has grown to love the Matildas as a team,” she said.

“You see that when we have games at home and we get 18,000 to 20,000 people showing up.”

‘Opened the door’

Caitlin Foord playing at World Cup.
Caitlin Foord is hoping to play her fourth World Cup on home soil.(Supplied: Rachel Bach/FFA)

Stepping onto the field in Mönchengladbach in 2011, Caitlin Foord became the youngest player, male or female, to play at a World Cup and was determined to make the most of her chance.

“I just grabbed it with two hands as I didn’t want to miss my opportunity,” Foord said.

Foord quickly locked down a place in the Matildas starting line-up and featured in all Australia’s games.

Despite the Matildas exiting the competition in their first knockout game, Foord’s performances in Germany turned heads and earned her the inaugural best young player accolade.

European adventure

Caitlin Foord Arsenal
Foord signing for Arsenal has joined a growing number of Australians plying their trade in England.(Supplied: Arsenal)

Nine years later her performances both domestically and abroad, she caught the eye of one of the biggest clubs in world football.

Foord signed with Arsenal in January this year but was only able to play a handful of games before COVID-19 prematurely ended the season.

“It was obviously not the start I wanted. I guess that’s what happens.”

“I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else when the lockdown hit, just because how the club looked after us and everyone was so positive it felt like you were still part of the team.

Foord also said she was looking forward to working with highly regarded Australian coach Joe Montemurro when training resumed in July.

“I didn’t know Joe before, but I’d only heard good things and after my first conversation I was sold.

“I haven’t really got the chance to work with him that much yet so definitely looking forward to that when the season starts.”



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What you need to know about Australia-New Zealand’s women’s FIFA 2023 World Cup bid


In the early hours of the morning on Friday, Australia and New Zealand will find out if they have been successful in their joint bid to host the 2023 Women’s World Cup.

Is the bid likely to be successful? Who are the competing bids? What will happen if Australia-New Zealand gets the nod?

We seek to answer all your questions below.

Why is Australia’s bid special?

There’s a lot to like about Australia-New Zealand 2023 — not least because it means a senior FIFA tournament will be played on our doorstep for the first time.

The bid is unique in that it will be the first time an effort split over two Confederations (Asia and Oceania) will have successfully tendered to host a major FIFA tournament.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described the bid has “historic” this week, highlighting the cross-confederation aspect.

Caitlin Foord and Abby Erceg run side by side with a ball at their feet
Australia and New Zealand are both pulling in the same direction when it comes to hosting the World Cup.(AAP: Brendon Thorne)

She also mentioned how the OFC (Oceania Football Confederation) has never hosted a FIFA tournament at the senior level, which would provide a huge boost to football in the region.

Australia has twice hosted FIFA’s U20 men’s tournament and NZ has hosted the U17s men’s world championships.

Who else is in the race?

Originally, there were four bidders.

Now, after Brazil dropped out due to a lack of government support and Japan dropped out just three days before the announcement was due, there are just two.

Previous to this, Australia topped FIFA’s recent technical report audit, scoring 4.1 out of 5, just pipping Japan, which scored 3.9.

Colombia’s bid scored 2.8, but their team have since argued they were victims of “erroneous and discriminatory conclusions” about the domestic security situation and sub-standard health facilities in the country.

Alanna Kennedyholds her arms up and yells in celebration
The Matildas had good support in France. At home it would be off the scale.(Reuters: Jean-Paul Pelissier)

Does that mean we’re favourites?

The head of Australia’s bid team, Jane Fernandez, told the ABC that coming out on top in the technical report was a big deal.

“It buoys our confidence, it means we that we know that we are on the right track,” Ms Fernandez said.

“It means that the technical evaluation team that came here in February, what they saw here was really pleasing to them.”

However, getting a good rating from the technical committee does not necessarily translate into votes.

Sepp Blatter announces Qatar as host for the 2022 World Cup
Remember when Qatar was successful? Us too.(REUTERS: Christian Hartmann)

What does fall in Australia-New Zealand’s favour is that FIFA rated it as the most commercially sound of all the bids.

How do they decide?

FIFA’s congress will meet in Zurich on Thursday and vote to decide who will earn hosting rights, with FIFA saying it will make an announcement from 2:00am AEST on Friday morning.

Thirty-five of the 37 congress members will vote, publicly, on who they think should earn the rights.

Why only 35? Colombia and New Zealand both have seats on FIFA’s Congress (unlike Australia), so are not eligible to vote, for obvious reasons.

If we win, where will the games be played?

The bid proposes 13 stadiums in 12 cities across Australia and New Zealand, telling FIFA it would prefer a minimum of 10 to be used — five in each country.

FIFA has the final say, but noted that all the proposed stadiums performed strongly against the required criteria.

Selfie with Samantha Kerr
Matildas fans will have a golden opportunity to see a World Cup on home soil.(Australian Story: Jennifer Feller)

Eden Park in Auckland is down to host the opening game, with Stadium Australia in Sydney pencilled in for the final.

The planned redevelopment of Sydney Olympic stadium into a 70,000-seat, rectangular facility was recently put on ice, but FIFA demands the World Cup final is played in a venue with a minimum capacity of 55,000 — and Homebush is the only place that fulfils that criteria, redeveloped or not.

Stadium City Capacity
Stadium Australia Sydney 70,000*
Eden Park Auckland 48,276
Hindmarsh stadium Adelaide 18,435
Lang Park Brisbane 52,263
Christchurch stadium Christchurch 22,556
Dunedin stadium Dunedin 28,744
Waikato stadium Hamilton 25,111
York Park Launceston 22,065
AAMI Park Melbourne 30,052
Newcastle stadium Newcastle 25,945
Perth Oval Perth 22,225
Sydney Football Stadium Sydney 42,512
Wellington Regional Stadium Wellington 39,000

*Redeveloped capacity. Current capacity is 82,500.

The bid team is banking on welcoming 1.5 million fans through the gates across those venues for an average of 24,000 spectators per game, making it the most well-supported women’s World Cup in history.

Will our time zone hurt us?

Not according to FIFA’s evaluation report.

In relation to TV potential, FIFA said although “a relative fall in audiences could be experienced in Europe” its analysis of the time zones meant the games “would be expected to appeal quite strongly to the Asian markets”.

When will the tournament take place?

The dates FIFA has nominated for the tournament to take place are between July 10 to August 10, 2023.

This, being the southern hemisphere winter, would make playing conditions perfect across the two host countries.

Sam Kerr celebrates a goal by giving a high five to a teammate as she runs away from the camera
Playing conditions will be perfect during the Australia-New Zealand winter.(AP: Laurent Cipriani)

There is no clash with either the A-League or W-League, but the grass-roots state-based competitions will be running at the same time in both countries — considered a bonus for the bid team to drive engagement.

When it comes to potential clashes, the elephants in the room are the NRL and AFL competitions in Australia, and provincial rugby union competition in New Zealand.

However, the bid team state they have “secured the support and commitment of other sports to collaborate on the delivery of the tournament” — which was not the case for the ill-fated 2022 bid.

How many teams will there be?

The 2023 Women’s World Cup will feature 32 teams, up from the 24 that competed in France in 2019.

US women's soccer team celebrate winning 2019 world cup
The reigning champions, the USA, will likely be one of 32 teams at the World Cup.(AP: Alessandra Tarantino)

There will be eight groups of four teams in the initial stages, split evenly between Australia and New Zealand.

Qualification will start next year — contingent on an easing of the global coronavirus pandemic.

As with the men’s tournament, the hosts would qualify automatically. In the instance of a joint bid, both teams would get the nod.

The breakdown of how many teams will be able to qualify from each confederation will be determined in due course.

Australia bid for the 2022 World Cup — how did that work out?

Not great, if we’re being honest.

Australia received just one vote during a secret ballot back in 2010, and was knocked out in the first round.

The bid was backed by a $46 million of Federal Government funds, but never had a real chance of being successful, according to then FIFA president Sepp Blatter (now serving a six-year ban from FIFA activities).

Qatar, somewhat controversially, was chosen instead.

The controversy around that bidding process had major impacts on the footballing political landscape, with FBI raids on FIFA’s offices and a slew of arrests.

This time, things should be different given the vote will be public.

When will we find out the result?

Set your alarms for 2:00am AEST for the news out of Switzerland.

Win or lose, we’ll bring you all the reaction right here.



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