Matildas players, officials and fans alike have shared their joy after Australia and New Zealand won the rights to host the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
There were exuberant scenes during the early hours of Friday morning as football fans and players across Australia and New Zealand learned they had secured the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
A small, socially distanced group of players and officials gathered at the Football Federation Australia’s headquarters in Sydney to watch the live-streamed announcement from Zurich, Switzerland.
“That process was so stressful, but I can’t believe it,” Matildas defender Steph Catley said.
“I’m so excited. I’m now starting to think about what it will be like to be a player at a home world cup, it is just surreal.”
“It’s giving me goosebumps.”
“The girls are going crazy, WhatsApp is going off!” Goalkeeper Lydia Williams told ABC News Breakfast.
“We’ve had to slog it out pretty tough over the last five or six years and to get this amazing result, I think, is just incredible, not only for women’s football and our team, but for football in Australia.”
“The fact that it’s so multicultural, there are so many different people that play the game, I think it’s just going to grow football in Australia and New Zealand to have the next generation coming through.”
Australia had previously made an unsuccessful bid to host the 2022 FIFA Men’s World Cup, losing to Qatar.
“For the first time in history, Australians and New Zealanders will be able to experience a global football tournament, right here on home soil,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison tweeted.
Across the Tasman, New Zealand Football Ferns players Erin Nayler, Hanna Wilkinson and Annalie Longo could barely contain their excitement as they watched the announcement.
“It was a long wait,” Ms Wilkinson told TVNZ.
“All of this anticipation was filling the room.”
“The second he said it, I completely blacked out for a second. Honestly, it was just total joy.
“This is going to be absolutely amazing and I’m a bit speechless.”
“There will be millions watching this. It’s huge.”
New Zealand captain Ali Riley, currently based in the United States, tweeted an image of her reaction, raw emotion bringing tears to her eyes.
In a statement, NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described the upcoming event as a “historic tournament of firsts that will create a profound and enduring legacy for women’s football in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond”.
In addition to co-hosting the football tournament in 2023, New Zealand will also host the Women’s Rugby and Cricket World Cups in 2021.
“It presents an amazing opportunity for us to grow female participation, create new female leaders and further raise the visibility of women’s sport,” New Zealand sports minister Grant Robertson said.
“It’s quite incredible for women’s football in our region to secure the Women’s World Cup,” said Ros Moriarty, the chair of FFA’s Women’s Football Council.
“Asia’s definitely a developmental region for FIFA. There hasn’t been a women’s World Cup in this region or in the southern hemisphere so there’s new ground to be developed here.”