It’s official – Australia will be hosting the 2023 Women’s World Cup after a successful joint bid with Oceanic neighbours New Zealand, and Newcastle is among the cities set to host a series of matchdays during the global event.
The ‘AsOne’ bid edged out Colombia in a FIFA Council vote early on Friday morning, to huge celebrations. In the end, the AUS/NZ combo-bid was forced to contend with Europe, who backed Colombia, but came out ahead 4.5/5 to 2.8/5.
McDonald Jones Stadium, listed in the bid as its standard “Hunter Stadium” due to future sponsorship rights, is one of 13 venues involved in the impending tournament. Newcastle has been flagged for group games, knockout fixtures — likely a sudden-death quarterfinal match — and potentially the third-place playoff fixture.
"The host of the FIFA Women's World Cup 2023 will be…. Australia & New Zealand!!"
— Westfield Matildas (@TheMatildas) June 25, 2020
While Newcastle is now a lock for nearly a half-dozen games, according to the FFA, there will still be a lengthy wait for confirmation on dates/matches; the draw for the World Cup won’t be held until late 2022.
The tournament’s start-to-finish dates have already been pencilled in, however, pending confirmation from all host cities. The 2023 Women’s World Cup should be hosted from July 10, starting in Auckland, and finish with the world title decider on August 23.
“The opportunity to play in a home FIFA Women’s World Cup is something every footballer dreams of and I am looking forward to seeing those dreams come true,” Matildas captain Sam Kerr said after FIFA’s official announcement.
“Playing for the Matildas in Australia will be the highlight of my career and an opportunity to inspire girls, both in Australia and New Zealand, and all over the world to play football. We have seen great progress in the women’s game and Australia-New Zealand will take the game to a whole new level.”
Hunter Stadium is one of eight Australian venues on the shortlist to receive games during the 2023 event. Stadium Australia, the Sydney Football Stadium, Melbourne Rectangular Stadium, Brisbane Stadium, Perth Rectangular Stadium, Hindmarsh Stadium, and York Park in Launceston are also expected to host group and playoff games.
Newcastle’s 33,000-person stadium has already played host a handful of high-profile international football matches over the past few years. Last year, the Matildas were at their imperious best as they belted Vietnam in a 5–0 landslide as the two sides dueled for a spot at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which has since been delayed.
The Matildas themselves have also made Newcastle’s Hunter Stadium a fortress in recent times. In 2017, they defeated arch-rivals Brazil 3–2, and downed Chile 5–0 in 2018 ahead of the aforementioned Vietnam rout last March.
In 2015, the New Lambton venue hosted four Asian Cup matches, including the Socceroos 2–0 win over the United Arab Emirates in the tournament semi-finals. 21,079 spectators turned out to watch the Aussies book their spot in the grand final, which they would go on to win 2–1 over South Korea in extra time.
Hunter Stadium also saw Japan, Palestine, Oman, Kuwait, and Iraq play matches in at the venue throughout the tournament. As well as the semi-final, Newcastle was also given the third-place playoff match and two group games.
On top of Hunter Stadium’s heavy involvement in the premier women’s football event, the FFA has confirmed No.2 Sportsground, Darling St Oval, Magic Park, and Adamstown Oval will also be used as training venues. The FFA is expected to provide improved lighting and other infrastructure improvements for the suburban grounds.
Here’s the full list of stadiums expected to host at least one competitive fixture during the 2023 Women’s World Cup:
- Stadium Australia, Sydney (the final), capacity: 70,000
- Sydney Football Stadium, capacity: 42,512
- Melbourne Rectangular Stadium, capacity: 30,052
- Brisbane Stadium, capacity: 52,263
- Perth Rectangular Stadium, capacity: 22,225
- Hindmarsh Stadium, Adelaide, capacity: 18,435
- Newcastle Stadium, capacity:
- York Park, Launceston, Tasmania, capacity: 22,065
- Eden Park, Auckland (opening game), capacity: 48,276
- Wellington Stadium, capacity: 39,000
- Christchurch Stadium, capacity: 22,556
- Waikato Stadium, Hamilton, capacity: 25,111
- Dunedin Stadium, capacity: 28,744