By Coen Lammers* in Doha
Ticket sales for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in New Zealand and Australia indicate the tournament is on track to set new records, according to the women’s game top official.
FIFA Chief Women’s Football Officer Sarai Bareman says ticket sales have been overwhelming in the opening weeks.
“We have sold more tickets in the first six weeks for Australia and New Zealand, than the first six months of the last World Cup in France. And France was massive,” Bareman said.
In France, over 1.2 million tickets were sold, and the organisers of next year’s event are hoping to attract 1.5 million spectators in New Zealand and Australia.
Bareman was speaking in Qatar at the conclusion of the first gathering of leaders of the women’s game from all six confederations since the pandemic started three years ago.
“It was incredible getting everyone together in one room after all those years and hearing how the women’s game has just exploded in popularity over that period,” said the New Zealander, who admitted at times shedding a few tears during the emotional reunion of all confederations.
Much of the focus of the meeting was on next year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup in New Zealand and Australia, which included the announcement of team bases for the 32 teams.
Bareman said international interest in the 2023 event had surpassed all expectations.
“We can see that the popularity and the interest is there and we can see in the ticket sales that there will be big contingents of international fans coming to our shores,” she said, adding that the fans of the United States women’s team were leading the charge.
“It’s going to be huge, so New Zealanders need to get in quick if they don’t want to miss out.”
With super powers like the US and the Netherlands playing in New Zealand, as well as the Football Ferns playing on home turf, Bareman said that some games would be more in demand than others.
“There are still tickets available for all matches, and more will be released later, but it may be a challenge for New Zealanders to get into some of those matches.”
She suggested that some fans also needed to consider supporting some of the lesser known countries in the tournament.
“For me it’s not just about the big teams, but also about being part of this tournament, to be inside a stadium, irrespective of who is playing on the field. So you can say ‘I was there when that goal was scored’ in 10 or 20 years’ time.”
Bareman expects some of that support to develop organically when the visiting teams arrive in their home bases which will be dotted around New Zealand.
Aside from the teams basing themselves in the four host cities, three other cities will also be hosing teams.
Christchurch will welcome the teams from Japan and Costa Rica, Palmerston North will host Spain, while the Dutch community in Tauranga can roll out the welcome mat for the Netherlands.
Sweden and South Africa will set up camp in Wellington, Switzerland is heading for Dunedin, while seven other teams will be based in Auckland, including the stars from the United States.
“If one of the teams is based around your town, of course you going to get behind that team and support them,” Bareman said, whose old home ground at Fred Taylor Park will be hosting tournament’s debutant Vietnam.
“How cool is that? To have those players in your own backyard will be amazing.
“These players won’t just be in their hotels, but also out in the street. Just imagine bumping into an American superstar like Megan Rapinoe walking down the road in Auckland?”
Bareman said team base camps have been common in the men’s World Cups for many years, but would be used for the first time at the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
“Team base camps will be a home away from home for each team. Instead of going from hotel to hotel, the players will have your home base so they can feel more grounded. This will be incredibly important for the players as you will have to live and perform in that environment for many weeks.”
The FIFA World Cup kicks off on 20 July 2023 with a match between New Zealand and Norway in Auckland.
* Coen Lammers is attending the Fifa World Cup in Qatar for Radio New Zealand. Qatar will be the sixth Fifa World Cup he has covered.
Story Credit: rnz.co.nz