As preparations for the 2023 Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand reach their final stages, FIFA has announced that more than 500,000 tickets have already been sold — but don’t fear, more are on the way.
Fans from 129 countries have bought tickets to the inaugural 32-team tournament, with punters from the two co-hosting nations leading the way, followed by the United States, England, Qatar, Germany, China, Canada, the Republic of Ireland and France.
The most-sought-after game is the final on August 20 at Stadium Australia in Sydney, while FIFA is aiming to move the Matildas’ opening group match against the Republic of Ireland from the smaller-capacity Sydney Football Stadium (capacity 42,500) to the venue of the final (83,500) due to high demand.
Fans were left frustrated in November after a new ticket sales phase began in the middle of the night with little warning from FIFA, resulting in hundreds of locals waking up to find the games they wanted to attend already appeared to be sold out.
However, FIFA has confirmed to the ABC that no games have been completely exhausted, and that more sales phases are scheduled before the tournament’s opening games on July 20, including to all three Matildas group games as well as the final.
National allocation has also been questioned by fans overseas, with the Irish federation reportedly receiving a ticket allocation from FIFA of just 4 per cent (or 1,700 tickets) for the opener against Australia.
The ABC understands that Irish officials could have applied for a greater allocation of tickets, and FIFA expects Australia’s large Irish expat community to turn out for their three group games.
More tickets have been sold to this year’s tournament than were sold in the first six months of the previous World Cup in France in 2019, although it is difficult to draw direct comparisons due to 2023’s expanded format and the rapid cultural and financial shifts in the women’s game over the past four years.
Three of the five-most-attended women’s football matches of all time occurred last year, with Barcelona’s UEFA Women’s Champions League semi-final against Wolfsburg setting a new record of 91,648 at the Camp Nou, breaking the record previously set by the 1999 Women’s World Cup final between the USA and China at the Rose Bowl, which took place in front of 90,185 people.
This past weekend, Sam Kerr’s Chelsea faced Caitlin Foord and Steph Catley’s Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium in London where a total of 46,811 tickets had been sold.
The 2015 Women’s World Cup in Canada reached a record attendance level of 1.35 million people, with an average of 26,028 fans per game, while France totalled 1.13 million people at an average of 21,756.
With the 2022 World Cup in Qatar now out of the way, it is expected that FIFA will now ramp up its marketing efforts for the women’s tournament, with the governing body aiming for upwards of 1.5 million tickets to be sold overall.
At least five nations will make their Women’s World Cup debuts in 2023 — including Morocco, Zambia, the Philippines, Vietnam and the Republic of Ireland — with three more a possibility after the final inter-continental play-off tournament in New Zealand in February, for which tickets are now also on sale.
That play-off tournament will feature 10 teams — Portugal, Cameroon, Thailand, Chile, Haiti, Senegal, Taiwan, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, and Panama — competing for three remaining spots in the finals.