FRIDAY, JUNE 26
Australia and New Zealand have been successful in their historic joint bid to host the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
The trans-Tasman bid beat out that of Colombia by 22 votes to 13 at the FIFA Council meeting in Zurich early this morning.
The tournament will be the first co-confederation-hosted FIFA World Cup (Australia, being part of the Asian football confederation and New Zealand a member of the Oceanic branch), as well as the first FIFA Women’s World Cup to be held in the Asia-Pacific region.
After previous bidders Japan and Brazil each pulled out of the race in recent days, Australia and New Zealand were up against Colombia alone.
The joint bid was favourite to win after the technical audit scores were released at the beginning of June, which indicated the capability of a country to host the large-scale event.
Colombia, which did not qualify for the 2019 Women’s World Cup, received votes from most of the nine voters from European soccer body UEFA.
In hosting the event, the Matildas and the Football Ferns will not be required to win qualifying matches and are automatically through to the opening round.
It was also announced that the 2023 World Cup would be larger than previous tournaments, with the number of teams at the group stage of the final tournament expanding from 24 to 32 teams.
FIFA Council president Gianni Infantino hailed the expanded tournament.
“It will be even more global and have much positive impact on the development of women’s football,” Mr Infantino said.
Football Federation Australia chairman Chris Nikou said the successful bid was an enormous opportunity to grow football in the region.
“FIFA today has made not one, but two countries very happy,” Mr Nikou said.
“Our pledge to the FIFA family is that no stone will be left unturned to produce the best World Cup and grow the women’s game globally and in the Asia-Pacific region.”
New Zealand Football Federation president Johanna Wood promised the two nations would work together to deliver a tournament to remember.
“Chris and I and the whole bidding team are extremely delighted with the result,” she said.
“We’ve always said with this bid, that it is as one and making history and creating opportunities.”
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern issued a joint statement on what they said was a landmark decision for women’s sport.
“This is a huge positive for the footballing and sporting industries on both sides of the Tasman as we recover and rebuild from COVID-19,” they said.
“The 2023 event will be the largest, and no doubt the best, Women’s World Cup that has ever been staged.”
Matildas defender Ellie Carpenter had earlier told the Nine Network’s Today show that the team had gathered in Sydney to receive the news together.
Australia’s international borders are unlikely to fully reopen until a vaccine is found for COVID-19, outgoing Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy says.
But Professor Murphy says he is growing more confident a vaccine will be discovered among hundreds of “candidate molecules” being assessed by scientists worldwide.
Until then, he says he remains very conscious of the enormous economic damage inflicted on Australia — often on the advice he proffered to National Cabinet as chair of the Australian Health Principal Protection Committee (AHPPC), a powerful group of medical experts.
In a wide-ranging interview with the ABC to mark his last day as CMO, Professor Murphy says it was “gut-wrenching” to see unemployment queues outside Centrelink after clubs, pubs, restaurants, gyms and some retail shops were shuttered following AHPPC’s advice in March.
Professor Murphy will address his final National Cabinet as CMO today, ahead of becoming the Secretary of the Health Department next month.
Meanwhile, in the UK, an English sea-side holiday town has declared a “major incident” after thousands of people flocked to the beach during Britain’s hottest day of the year, ignoring public health warnings over coronavirus.
Local authorities in the popular beachside town of Bournemouth have urged people to leave the town after it became “stretched to the absolute hilt” during a second day of a heatwave as temperatures hit 33C.
Fears over the spread of coronavirus between people packed on the beach, as well as gridlocked roads, illegal overnight camping, rubbish left on beaches and alcohol-fuelled fights forced Bournemouth Christchurch and Poole Council to act.
“We are absolutely appalled at the scenes witnessed on our beaches, particularly at Bournemouth and Sandbanks, in the last 24-48 hours,” Council Leader Vikki Slade said in a statement.
Amid calls for the removal of Confederate symbols and nostalgia prompted by the Black Lives Matter movement, the notoriously liberal country music trio formerly known as the Dixie Chicks have finally decided that “Dixie” had to die.
According to The New York Times, “dixie” is a nostalgic nickname for the Civil War-era South, news.com.reports.
Now simply the Chicks, bandmates Natalie Maines, Emily Strayer and Martie Maguire, who have sold some 33 million albums worldwide, were widely ostracised by the country music community after they spoke out against President George W. Bush over his decision to lead the US into war with Iraq in 2003.
On Thursday, the 13-time Grammy-winning band announced the change with a new music video, titled March March, released under the new Chicks moniker. Representatives for the group confirmed the name to The New York Times.
“We want to meet this moment,” reads a brief statement on their website.
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