The 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup taking place in Australia is off to a not-so-great start, with the US National Team making waves with its embarrassing National Anthem performance as the event as a whole struggles to sell tickets.
In fact, the event is struggling so badly with ticket sales that it has resorted to begging New Zealanders to “do the right thing” and buy tickets to watch matches few have any interest in watching, which makes sense given the remote location of the match in New Zealand, halfway around the world for fans in the US, Africa, and Europe, and the generally subdued interest in women’s soccer compared to men’s soccer.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino, however, pleaded with New Zealanders to buy more tickets to the match up, seemingly attempting to shame them into doing so. “New Zealand, we want you. We need you,” he begged
Continuing, Infantino argued that women’s soccer is just as good as men’s soccer, implying that because of that people should be just as interested in watching it. In his words: “Many people who still believe that women’s football is not, you know, great, a great game or it’s not so entertaining or it’s a kind of a bad copy of men’s football, or some stuff like that. Well, when they watch a game for the first time, they will actually see that it’s a fantastic game. It’s very entertaining. It’s great athletes playing, the level has grown incredibly in the last 10 years, and the best are coming here.”
Joining President Infantino was FIFA secretary general Fatma Samoura. Echoing Infantino’s plea to New Zealanders, she begged, “We still have tickets available for some matches, so my only plea is don’t wait until the last moment.”
Continuing, she tried to put a positive spin on the dismal situation, adding, “You still can apply and get your ticket for the majority of the matches, and we hope that this will be also the most attended women’s sporting event – it is already, but that we will be reaching record figures.”
Watch the press conference here:
One of the reasons the event is having a hard time selling tickets, the Associated Press noted, is that interest in the event remains low in New Zealand because that country isn’t particularly interested in soccer. Adding to that is that this is the cold time of year in New Zealand, so trying to drag people into cold stadiums to watch a sport they’re not particularly interested in is a hard sell.
Further, political headlines have generally dominated women’s soccer, namely arguments about pay. That issue might be dying down, however, as in a March news release, Infantino said that “a total package of USD 152 million would be on offer at this year’s tournament – three times more than at the previous FIFA Women’s World Cup in France four years ago and over 10 times more than the amount offered at the 2015 tournament in Canada.”
Featured image credit: screengrab from the embedded video