Premier makes Women’s World Cup debut as Matildas make history

Premier Peter Malinauskas will attend his first FIFA Women’s World Cup clash in Adelaide tonight as millions of avid football fans from around the world watch China and England in the fourth match being held at Hindmarsh Stadium.

Aug 01, 2023, updated Aug 01, 2023
Australia celebrates its win over Canada during the FIFA Women's World Cup 2023 soccer match between Canada and Australia at Melbourne Rectangular Stadium in Melbourne last night. Photo: AAP Image/James Ross

Australia celebrates its win over Canada during the FIFA Women's World Cup 2023 soccer match between Canada and Australia at Melbourne Rectangular Stadium in Melbourne last night. Photo: AAP Image/James Ross

While the Premier has been a highly public figure at SA sporting events including the AFL Gather Round and Liv Golf this year, he has left government representation at the Women’s World Cup to Deputy Premier Susan Close and Recreation, Sport and Racing Minister Katrine Hildyard, who has been at every game in Adelaide.

Hildyard has been hosting some of the biggest names in football including the trailblazing first female FIFA secretary general Fatma Samoura, and said the matches have been transformative for women’s sport.

“I think that when we see women athletes being celebrated for being not on the sidelines, but for being right in the action, for being strong, skilled and talented, it’s transformative in the way women are seen and the role they play,” Hildyard said.

“We are now seeing five million Australians tuning in to see the Matildas play, their merchandise outselling the Socceroos and two billion people across the globe tuning in for the Women’s World Cup.”

Tonight’s packed stadium event follows a dazzling performance by Australia’s team the Matildas last night when they dominated Canada to win 4-0, taking the team to the top of Group B and a spot in the group of 16.

OzTam ratings showed 143,000 people in Adelaide last night watched the Matilda’s game while 69,000 watched the first session of the Ashes cricket in England growing to 100,000 at lunch. The same number of Adelaide viewers – 143,000 – watched the AFL Showdown between Port and the Crows on the weekend.

Hildyard said the Women’s World Cup showed how far women’s sport has moved forward, the Brazil versus Panama match in Adelaide was watched by 11.5 million Brazilians and the country’s cheer squad flew into SA to march from The Gov hotel to the stadium.

She said the Brazilian government gave people time off to watch their national team and, in Ireland, religious mass times have been changed so fans can watch their women’s team play in the event being held across Australia and New Zealand.

A spokesman for Opposition Leader David Speirs said he has not attended any of the women’s world cup matches and is now in England for meetings over nuclear submarines so will not be at the stadium watching England take on China.

Hildyard said the matches have attracted intense international interest and she has been seated with other high-profile women during the games including the honorary consul for Haiti and the ambassador of Morocco.

FIFA Secretary General Madame Fatma Samoura (centre) alongside Sports Minister Katrine Hildyard at the Morocco versus South Korea game in Adelaide. Photo: supplied

The Premier recently returned from leave and a spokesman said he would attend tonight’s game and that he “identified that match some time ago as a priority given both his upcoming travel to China, and the opportunities South Australia has in furthering our relationships with the UK under AUKUS”.

European champion England comes into the game ranked number four in the world and is favourite over the 14th-ranked China team.

“World Cup matches being played in our state is a transformational opportunity to grow participation of girls and women in the sport of football,” Malinauskas said.

“This is why we fought so hard to overturn the previous government’s decision to forgo involvement in the Women’s World Cup.

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“The event has already left a lasting legacy of millions of dollars in infrastructure – a new stand, big screens, new entry points and other upgrades at Coopers Stadium, as well as new change-rooms and pitches for several suburban clubs.”

Malinauskas will also speak at The Power of Her – Creating Change: Harnessing Power for Gender Equality leadership symposium being held at Adelaide Oval on August 8 – headlined by Fatma Samoura.

Panama and China have been based in Adelaide during the tournament as Australia and New Zealand host the cup for the first time, with a large international media contingent staying in South Australia.

Hildyard said China is an important trading partner and an important tourism market for SA, and has brought a large entourage of players, staff and supporters into the state.

She also said the high-profile world cup event also has been central to the State Government’s See the Signs of Coercive Control Campaign, with signage around the Hindmarsh Stadium.

A fifth and final game Women’s World Cup will be played in Adelaide on August 8, a round of 16 match between the Group F winner and the Group H runner up.

As part of WWC events last night, the British High Commissioner for Australia Vicki Treadell and the British Deputy Consul General Catriona Boyd hosted an all-female panel featuring women in leadership and sport at an Adelaide networking event.

This included South Australian Deputy Premier Susan Close, and the English Football Association’s Women’s Football head of marketing and commercial Marzena Bogdanowicz.

The panel session was facilitated by the Australian British Chamber of Commerce’s new chief executive officer Ticky Fullerton, who was previously the NSW Director for the Chamber and Business Editor at Large at The Australian Business Review.

A media release from Close, Hildyard and Trade and Investment Minister Nick Champion said it gave an opportunity to meet industry leaders, researchers and academics in Adelaide for the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023, leveraging off the A-UKFTA that entered into force on between the United Kingdom and Australia on May 31.

A spokesman for Champion said he was unable to make the event, while Malinauskas met with the British High Commissioner yesterday afternoon.

“We’ve committed a million dollars to realise the potential of the World Cup to advance the equal participation of women and girls in football and in every aspect of community life,” he said.

“To that end, I look forward to addressing a major Women in Leadership Symposium at the Adelaide Oval next Tuesday, to discuss further these opportunities.”

women's world cup

Susan Close on a panel at a networking event hosted by Australia’s British High Commissioner as part of FIFA Women’s World Cup events. Photo: LinkedIn post.

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