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AFP
June 27, 2020

‘Dream come true’ as women’s World Cup heads Down Under

Sports

AFP
June 27, 2020

WELLINGTON: Football lovers in Australia and New Zealand offered rare praise for FIFA’s transparency on Friday after the southern hemisphere neighbours won hosting rights for the 2023 women’s World Cup.

The decision, announced by Switzerland-based FIFA in what was the early hours of the morning in Australia and New Zealand, sparked emotional reactions among sleep-deprived players and fans.

“I will never forget this moment,” New Zealand captain Ali Riley tweeted alongside a close-up selfie showing tears in her eyes.

Australia’s women’s captain Sam Kerr posted footage of her trademark tumbling backflip goal celebration, saying playing in a home tournament was “a dream come true”.

“We have seen great progress in the women’s game and Australia-New Zealand will take the game to a whole new level,” she said.

Socceroos great Tim Cahill said he was “lost for words”, while Hollywood star Russell Crowe — who has links to both Australia and New Zealand — tweeted “Let’s do this”.

“I haven’t slept, I’ll have to do that another night, it’s worth it though,” New Zealand Football chief executive Andy Pragnell told AFP between what he called “well-timed coffees”.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern promised the ninth edition of the tournament would be the best ever.

“It will be a historic tournament of firsts that will create a profound and enduring legacy for women’s football in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond,” she said in a statement.

The 2023 tournament will be the first co-hosted by cooperating nations, the first in the southern hemisphere and the first with 32 teams.

The bid’s success completes a trifecta for New Zealand, which has already secured rights to host the women’s cricket and rugby world cups next year.