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Celebrations Down Under after successful World Cup bid

  • News Desk

    Reuters

Melbourne, Australia/Wellington, New Zealand   /   Fri, June 26, 2020   /   09:20 am
Celebrations Down Under after successful World Cup bid The Sydney Opera House lights up in celebration of Australia and New Zealand's joint bid to host the FIFA Women's World Cup 2023, in Sydney, Australia, June 25, 2020. (Reuters/Loren Elliott)

Australian and New Zealand's women soccer players let out almighty roars, burst into applause and pumped their fists in celebration in the early hours of Friday after their countries' joint bid for the 2023 Women's World Cup was confirmed.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino made the announcement at about 3.45 a.m. NZT (1545 GMT) on Friday.

Football Ferns Erin Nayler, Hannah Wilkinson and Annalie Longo erupted with joy as they crowded around a laptop watching the video stream, while Matildas players sitting with the "As One" bid team also jumped up in celebration.

"That process was so stressful, but I can't believe it," Matildas defender Steph Catley said.

"I'm so excited. I'm now starting to think about what it will be like to be a player at a home World Cup, it is just surreal.

"It's giving me goosebumps."

The Football Ferns also experienced a similar long vigil overnight with players sitting in an Auckland hotel room.

"It was a long wait," Wilkinson told TVNZ. "All of this anticipation was filling the room.

"The second he said it, I completely blacked out for a second. Honestly, it was just total joy. This is going to be absolutely amazing and I'm a bit speechless.

"There will be millions watching this. It's huge."

The decision continues a strong run for New Zealand securing hosting rights for women's global sporting events, with the women's Rugby World Cup and Cricket World Cup scheduled to be held in the country in 2021.

"The tournament aligns perfectly with our strategy for Women and Girls in Sport and Active Recreation," Sports Minister Grant Robertson said in a statement.

Both Football Federation Australia (FFA) and New Zealand Football (NZF) had emphasized the boost that hosting the tournament would provide for the development of the game in the Asian and Oceania Confederations.

"It's quite incredible for women's football in our region to secure the Women's World Cup," Ros Moriarty, the chair of FFA's Women's Football Council told Reuters.

"Asia's definitely a developmental region for FIFA. There hasn't been a women's World Cup in this region or in the southern hemisphere so there's new ground to be developed here.

"And I think the co-confederation aspect is a big plus. It allows us to reach out to friends in Asia and as well as in Oceania."