Football Association Australia hailed the World Cup as “the most successful in history”, with the German women’s national team forced to exit the tournament after the preliminary round. In fact, the former stepfather’s interest in football has increased significantly. Especially the telecast gets high ratings. For example, in Australia, 9.4 million people watched the soccer World Cup coverage and matches on the private channel Seven.
And ticket sales are on a record high. After initial problems with co-hosts New Zealand, sales are now going well there too: more than 1.7 million tickets have been sold and the stadiums are well occupied. In Australia, live attendance has so far averaged 30,000 fans per game.
A milestone for Australian football, it was the stepchild of sports. Until now, fans’ hearts beat for rugby, Australian rules football (AFL) and cricket.
There is a real sense of national pride.
Rebecca Wilcox About the mindset of Australia
Football Australia’s managing director James Johnson says football owes its full return to the “Matildas”. “Matildas” is the name of the Australian national team. He asserts, “Your indomitable spirit and resilience aligns with our nation’s values.”
After losing to Nigeria, the team managed to turn the tide once again: they beat one of the tournament’s co-favourites, Canada, to advance to the Round of 16. “It was inspiring to see Australia rally behind this team,” Johnson said.
Current success is certainly not a thing for “Matildas.” Australia did not even qualify for the first proper Women’s World Cup in 1991. Four years later, the team lost all three opening round games in its tournament debut. In 2007 they finally got their first win – against Ghana – and went through to the knockout stage.
“I am very proud to be making history with the national team,” Joey Peters, one of the footballers at the time, wrote in an opinion piece for the Australian Guardian.
At this point, it’s “amazing” how just one game – a win against Canada – can change the nation. The players previously said they wanted to “leave a legacy,” and they’re doing just that.
Tribute to sportswomen
“There’s a real sense of national pride,” said Rebecca Wilcox, a young Sydney student who wasn’t a football fan before but is now keen on the competition. People will stand united behind the “Matildas”. It’s also special because it’s “a tribute to sportswomen,” the 19-year-old said.
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But it wasn’t just the Matildas’ success that fueled Australians’ passion for football. It’s the play of the match: “What happened?” A football fan wrote about a match in a Facebook group, for example.
The World Cup will offer “shocks and surprises” at the same time. “The best teams in women’s soccer – Germany and Brazil – exited at the group stage.” Telecom provider Optus Sport broadcast the cheers of the Moroccan team alongside the tears of the German team in host country Australia.
Even the German fans couldn’t hide their disappointment after the game. “It’s unbelievable that we can’t support our DFF women against France or Jamaica now,” said Oliver Gerbler, a German immigrant from Melbourne who hasn’t missed a World Cup or European Championship game in 20 years. Unfortunately, it’s “nothing like an Australian winter fairy tale”.
The German team has no Australian winter fairytale
Stephanie Kerr, from the German School in Melbourne, said she was also in tears at her school, where about 100 students watched the Germany vs South Korea game with their parents and teachers in the auditorium.
But her first reaction was: “Thankfully we still have the ‘Matildas’!” It’s the advantage of feeling at home in two cultures: “There’s a second team you can cheer on.”
Australia now face Denmark in the round of 16 on Monday, a game expected to draw another 75,000 fans to the stadium in Sydney and millions more to watch on TV.
Both teams have at least one Australian heartthrob: Denmark’s Crown Princess Mary is originally from Australia. The 50-year-old met her husband Prince Frederick during the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.
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