Women’s World Cup games for Dunedin

Imagine a billion set of eyes on Dunedin.

That might be overselling it, but the city will get its chance to share the spotlight when the women’s football World Cup is held in New Zealand and Australia in 2023.

Confirmation of the successful joint bid came through early yesterday morning. Dunedin is one of five New Zealand venues to host games.

Charlotte Summers (11, Southern United kit), Renee Bacon (24, New Zealand Maori Women), Aria...
Charlotte Summers (11, Southern United kit), Renee Bacon (24, New Zealand Maori Women), Aria Creed (13, Grants Braes) and Laney Whitson (14, Dunedin Technical) have a boot around at Forsyth Barr Stadium yesterday. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH

More than a billion viewers tuned into the official broadcast coverage of the 2019 tournament.

Dunedin Mayor Aaron Hawkins described it as a wonderful opportunity.

"We’re delighted to play a role in hosting some of the best players of the world’s most popular sport.

“We also know that major events such as this contribute millions to the local economy and will provide opportunities for the tourism, hospitality and retail sectors to showcase the city to a global audience.”

Early next year, Dunedin will host four women’s cricket World Cup games. In 2015, the city held seven Fifa under-20 men’s World Cup games.

It will be the first Fifa event hosted across two football confederations, and the first time the women’s World Cup has been held in the southern hemisphere.

The joint proposal beat a rival bid from Colombia. The tournament is being expanded to 32 teams (64 games) and will be held in July and August.

New Zealand will host four of the eight pools plus a quarterfinal and semifinal.

Dunedin Venues Management Limited chief executive Terry Davies called it a coup for the city.

"It is one of the biggest sporting events on the calendar. As soon as Fifa is mentioned anywhere, you are up there with the elite," Mr Davies said.

"A billion people are going to be watching and seeing Dunedin on the map. That is great for our economy ... and of course this is good news during a tough period," he said.

Davies was unclear how many games would be allocated to the city but thought perhaps three or four.

"We’ve got history of delivering Fifa events here. We’ve got great credentials delivering major events across other sporting codes, and we’ve got a covered roof. It all points to matches but we don’t know how many at this stage."

Football South chief executive Chris Wright said it would be an incredible event that "will leave a lasting legacy that will not only boost participation, but will also drive equity, diversity and inspire more female leaders to be an active part of the game".

adrian.seconi@odt.co.nz

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