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Matildas-mania takes over for must-win World Cup semi

Thousands of fans are expected to pack Stadium Australia for the Matildas’ World Cup semi-final against England, but public holiday idea won’t be discussed at National Cabinet today.

Aug 16, 2023, updated Aug 16, 2023

Excitement levels are reaching fever pitch as fans prepare to ride another emotional roller-coaster when the Matildas take on England in the Women’s World Cup semi-final.

More than 80,000 people are expected to pack a sold-out Stadium Australia on Wednesday night, while thousands of others will tune in from live sites around the country.

They include the two free sites in Adelaide set up for fans to watch the game, the official fan site at Festival Plaza and a new site at Memorial Drive.

Meanwhile, sales of Matildas scarves have soared on eBay Australia by more than 2600 per cent, the e-commerce platform says.

“In the last two weeks alone, sales of Matildas jerseys have kicked up over 450 per cent on eBay, while sales of the iconic Matildas scarf surged 2,650 per cent,” a spokesperson said.

“With Australia taking on the world and inspiring the next generation of women and girls in sports, it’s great to see the nation get behind their home team with unwavering support.”

Broadcaster Channel Seven reported 4.17 million people tuned in to the Matildas’ quarter-final against France on Saturday night.

Nearly 12 million viewers have watched the Matildas’ matches live throughout the tournament.

While Prime Minister Anthony Albanese remains committed to a public holiday if the Matildas win the World Cup, he said it wouldn’t be on the agenda for today’s National Cabinet meeting.

If the Matildas beat England’s Lionesses on tonight they will clinch a spot in the final against Spain on Sunday.

“We won’t actually be discussing (a public holiday) today, we’re discussing housing and other issues – it’s up to the states and territories,” Albanese said.

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The PM also rejected Opposition claims a snap public holiday would cost the national economy up to $2 billion.

“When the public holiday was held for the Memorial Day for the Queen, what happened was a whole range of small businesses went gangbusters on that day with the economic activity,” he said.

“The contribution to the economy of this World Cup has been extraordinary.”

Premier Peter Malinauskas has come out against a public holiday given the complexities and an estimated cost of $18 million to the state.

“I understand the desire for some to celebrate a potential Matildas World Cup victory with a public holiday, but the truth is that would take time to organise and would come at an economic cost,” he said.

“We’d rather make a lasting investment in the growth of women’s sport, so this World Cup can leave a strong legacy for our state.”

Malinauskas has pledged $18 million toward improving facilities for women’s sport across South Australia.

-with AAP

Topics: matildas
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