FIFA top officials predicted the Women’s World Cup in New Zealand and Australia will break audience and stadium attendance records, in a sign of the growth of women’s soccer.
“The eyes of the world are here. We hope to reach a quarter of the world’s population, 2 billion people, who will watch at least one match,” said FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura at a press conference in Auckland.
Samoura spoke accompanied by the president of FIFA, Gianni Infantino, on the eve of the opening of the tournament in the two countries of Oceania. “This tournament will be the first women’s World Cup organized by two confederations, the first in the southern hemisphere, the first with 32 teams, eight of them rookies,” added Samoura.
The leader assured that the tickets sold for the Cup have already exceeded those of the previous World Cup, in France, with 1,375,000 already placed and many more available. “It will be the women’s World Cup with the most attendance,” remarked Samoura. But New Zealand media reports low sales for the parties in their territory, not in Australia, the other host country.
For example, all 80,000 tickets for Australia’s first game against Ireland in Sydney on Thursday have already been sold out, while for the opening match, which pitted New Zealand against Norway on Thursday at Auckland’s 50,000-capacity Eden Park, tickets were completely unsold.
And according to data from the organization, of the 1,375,000 tickets sold until Wednesday, only 320,000 correspond to the matches that will be played in New Zealand, including all those in the first phase of the United States, current champion and great favorite for the title.
Given this, Infantino addressed a specific message to the population of New Zealand so that they come out to support women’s football. “It’s not too late, we need you, come watch the games,” the world soccer boss launched to New Zealand journalists.
In the official press conference prior to the opening match, the New Zealand coach, the Czech Jitka Klimkova, agreed with the FIFA leaders: “This is the opportunity for this country to not be content with just being a rugby country, but to awaken their love for football.”
Infantino was also repeatedly asked about how to ensure that the prizes awarded to the players, of $30,000 each, actually reached them, but he avoided answering, arguing that “money is always a sensitive subject.”
However, it was ensured that the entity created for the first time a commercial program “that culminated interesting figures”, of 500 million dollars that allowed us to cover the costs of the tournament. “It will be a truly unique show. Many people still believe that women’s football is not a great game, that it is a bad copy of men’s football, but when they see it they realize that it is fantastic”, expressed Infantino. “The level has risen in the last ten years and the best players are here,” he stressed.