The Republic of Ireland’s opening Women’s World Cup match against hosts Australia on July 20th has been switched to the bigger Stadium Australia in Sydney.
Originally fixed for the 42,500 capacity Allianz Stadium, which cost AUS $828 million (€539 million) and opened to the public in August last year, the game will now take place at the old Olympic Stadium, now known as Accor Stadium, the tournament’s largest venue with a capacity of 83,500. The ground will also host the World Cup final on August 20th.
Given the popularity of the Matildas, coupled with strong interest from a sizeable expat Irish community in Sydney and across Australia and New Zealand, early ticket sales at the smaller venue were strong and the first allocation sold out quickly.
There had been growing support to make the switch, with Football Australia backing the move that will now give roughly another 40,000 fans an opportunity to watch the opening game.
“The decision follows a thorough assessment of the competition and operational implications, as well as a comprehensive consultation process and agreement with key stakeholders,” Fifa said.
With the venue change now confirmed, attendance records could be broken at the tournament, with the previous benchmark for a women’s football match on Australian soil set in 2021, when 36,109 watched the Matildas take on USA.
A sell-out would see the Matildas enter the top five of women’s football attendances of all time (a Champions League tie between Barcelona and Wolfsburg at the Camp Nou holds the record of 91,648), and go second on the World Cup list, behind the 1999 final between USA v China which attracted 90,185 at the Rose Bowl.
Tickets already bought for the match at Allianz Stadium will remain valid for Accor, and those who are unable to accommodate the switch will be refunded.
Earlier this month, Fifa announced it had sold more than half a million tickets for the tournament with six months to go before the big kick-off – a positive start to ticket sales, although still some way off the intended target. – Guardian