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A tragedy marred the start, but FIFA Women’s World Cup a roaring success

In brief
  • FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 is poised to be one of history’s most successful sports events -men or women. 
  • A shooting in downtown Auckland that was unrelated to the event, nonetheless cast a pall on the opener. 
  • The event, however, has been positive for women’s sport and led to many sports infrastructure upgrades throughout NZ. 

Biggest women’s sport event in the world

New Zealand is  co-host with Australia and NZ will host 29  matches, including a World Cup semi-final on 15 August 2023 at Auckland’s Eden Park.

Australia will host 35 matches including the final on 20 August.

A tragedy marred the start, but FIFA Women’s World Cup a roaring success - Centrist
Millions of dollars worth of upgrades to New Zealand sports facilities is one of the World Cup’s legacies.

In many ways, it’s poised to become one of the most successful sporting events in history for either men or women. 

Women in Sport Aotearoa chief executive Nicky van den Bos said the success of last year’s Women’s Rugby World Cup highlighted a shift in the perception of women’s sport.

Unfortunate tragedy just before 1st game 

On the morning of the tournament kick off on 20 July, a shooting in Auckland’s CBD left three people dead, including the gunman. Another ten people were injured. 

The opener, later that evening, between the Football Ferns and Norway at a packed Eden Park, began with a moment of silence in honour of those killed. 

The shooting was not connected in any way to the tournament, but it was an unfortunate start to the event as international media broadcast news of the shooting around the world. Security was beefed up in the aftermath. 

FIFA Fan Zone was cancelled as a result. It had been  set up to broadcast matches on a big screen at The Cloud venue, near where the shooting took place. 

Record ticket sales

Despite the pall cast by the shooting and the slow start to ticket sales, once the tournament got underway, much to the relief of event officials, ticket sales have been record setting. Initially the government gave away about 20,000 tickets to fill stadium seats. 

Now over 1,500,000 tickets have been purchased. Between Australia and NZ, the 2023 tournament is the best attended Women’s World Cup in history. 

Attendance numbers have even beaten some of the most highly attended men’s rugby games in history

Infrastructure upgrades

$20 million has been invested in 30 sport facilities around the country ahead of the FIFA Women’s World Cup. This includes $5m to create gender neutral change rooms.

Show me the money

2023 represents a milestone as minimum conditions have been mandated by FIFA,, such as dedicated training bases, throughout the event.

Mandates also include 30% of the prize money  be paid directly to each of the 732 players. They will receive at least $US 30,000 ($49,000).

However, there’s some concern that, without safeguards in place,  the players from some countries will not actually receive all the money. 

Politics here, too, of course

Labour has campaigned on the relative success of the Women’s World Cup. 
Finance Minister Grant Robertson says events like this wouldn’t happen under an ACT government. But why does he think that?

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