Football audience of millions

Millions of eyeballs from around the world will cast their gaze towards Dunedin in 2023 after the southern city was selected to host six games at the Fifa Women’s World Cup.

The tournament is expected to bring significant economic and promotional benefits to the region as teams from 10 nations visit the city to contend for sporting supremacy on the Forsyth Barr Stadium turf.

Meanwhile, fans of the Football Ferns will eagerly mark July 30, 2023 in their diaries.

That is the day the Football Ferns are coming to town to play their climactic final pool match in the 2023 Fifa Women’s World Cup.

Dunedin Mayor Aaron Hawkins said the international audience for a Fifa tournament was massive.

The city had some experience of the exposure possible after hosting games during the men’s under-20 World Cup in 2015, but the senior women’s tournament was "another level again".

"It’s really exciting to be able to host some of the best players of the world’s most popular sport here in 2023."

Dunedin Mayor Aaron Hawkins shows off his football skills in front of Southern United players...
Dunedin Mayor Aaron Hawkins shows off his football skills in front of Southern United players Hannah Mackay-Wright (left) and Chelsea Whittaker after it was announced the city would get six World Cup matches in 2023. PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY
The ability to see world-class footballers including the Football Ferns would give young players in Dunedin something to aspire to.

Dunedin Venues Management chief executive Terry Davies said the matches would show off Dunedin to a television audience of millions.

The 2019 iteration of the tournament, held in France, attracted a cumulative total 1.12billion viewers across the entire tournament.

Enterprise Dunedin director John Christie said the tournament would provide the city an opportunity to showcase Dunedin to a global audience.

With the tournament still over a year away, he hoped Covid-19 related travel restrictions would be in the rear view mirror by the time the tournament rolled around.

"We’re looking forward to that opportunity, both domestically and internationally in being able to host again as a city."

The news of the local games had excited the Dunedin football community.

Among those was Southern United captain Rose Morton, who said they would be great exposure for the game.

"I think it’s amazing. It gives everyone a chance to look at the talent of what the world has to offer. It’s a great wee pathway for all the younger girls to watch some games, and identify that New Zealand is a great team, and there are options to play outside New Zealand, as well."

Morton has represented New Zealand at two age-grade World Cups, while her sister has played for the Football Ferns.

That had given her an insight into the level of international football.

The tournament will begin in Auckland at Eden Park on July 20, 2023, and the final will be in Sydney on August 20.

Co-hosts New Zealand and Australia are the only teams confirmed for the World Cup. Qualifying tournaments to determine the other 30 teams are set to continue until February 2023.

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