Australia is co-hosting the 2023 Women’s World Cup. What will it mean for football and gender equality in Australia?

Australia is co-hosting the 2023 Women’s World Cup. What will it mean for football and gender equality in Australia?

Following Australia and New Zealand’s successful bid for the 2023 Women’s World Cup, experts from RMIT unpack what this means for the broader society.

Australia and New Zealand successfully nudged out competing nation Colombia to secure the 2023 Women’s World Cup.

The FIFA Council voted in favour of a trans-Tasman World Cup, a major victory for football and gender equality in Australia.

It goes a considerable way to erase the memory associated with Australia’s failed attempt to secure the 2022 FIFA Men’s World Cup.

Lecturer in Economics and Research Fellow Leonora Risse says the 2023 World Cup will accelerate progress towards gender equality not only within sporting culture, but in broader society.

“Research into Australians’ attitudes has found that the success of a local female athlete can shift old-fashioned beliefs that women are less capable than men,” Risse said.

“The opportunity to showcase top level female athletes goes a long way to addressing this.”

Football in Australia made momentous strides in gender equality last year when it announced the women’s team, the Matildas, would be paid the same as the men’s team, the Socceroos.

Risse says the media has a big part to play in ensuring the 2023 World Cup creates a positive impact on women’s sport.

“We have also seen that when women are successful in male-dominated fields they are more likely to encounter backlash, as was the case with the AFLW player Tayla Harris,” said Risse.

“This makes it even more important that female athletes and sports teams are given the same degree of professional respect, resourcing and public support that men’s teams have long enjoyed.”

Lecturer in Marketing and Design Thinking Dr Kevin Argus says the successful bid also offers a huge boost to Australia's national identity.

“It will create a sense of much-needed optimist, post-COVID,” Argus said.

“Women’s empowerment will be transformed within the sport and the workplace, as programs to uplift women will be supported by government and industry to align with society’s expectations.

“The Matildas have been rated Australia’s ‘most loved team’ – there has never been a better opportunity for women to seize the opportunity to enact change across all domains of social, environmental and economic participation.”

While it’s still three years away, Associate Professor Con Stavros is bullish about the Matildas chances of claiming the trophy on home soil.

“They’re a great chance to lift the trophy if playing on home soil - which would likely rank as the most significant achievement by any Australian sporting team should they prevail,” Stavros said.

“The world's best players gathering in Australia for the highest honour in women's world football would be a timely boost not just for women's sport, but for the health of football in Australia.”

 

Story: Caleb Scanlon

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