Melbourne will host what is expected to be an international blockbuster FIFA Women’s World Cup warm-up match between the Matildas and Sweden in November.
- A capacity crowd is expected to watch Australia v Sweden on November 12
- It will be the first Matildas game in Melbourne for almost four years
- Melbourne Rectangular Stadium will receive $25 million worth of upgrades ahead of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup
Football Australia and the Victorian government say the soccer friendly will be held at the Melbourne Rectangular Stadium on November 12.
Minister for Tourism, Sport and Major Events Steve Dimopoulos said it would likely attract a capacity crowd and would mark the first Matildas game in Victoria for nearly four years after lockdowns and travel restrictions.
“The Matildas have achieved tremendous results for the profile of women’s sport in this country and this fixture will be an important milestone for the Matildas’ journey to the World Cup next year,” Mr Dimopoulos said.
“While the Matildas versus Sweden match will be a friendly, there’s sure to be some rivalry with these two. They are amongst the top teams in the world on the global stage.”
Football Australia chief executive officer James Johnson said it was an exciting opportunity for soccer fans.
“Sweden are number three in the world, they’re a great team to watch, they’re technically very sound,” Mr Johnson said.
Former Matildas captain Melissa Barbieri said securing the game was a coup for the Australian side.
“A game against a European team on its own is huge.
“Because we are part of the Asian confederation, we play a lot of the Asian teams a lot of the time and when you come up against European teams, it’s just a massive step for us.”
Barbieri said the Matildas and Sweden have a long-running rivalry.
“But the ferociousness of that rivalry has actually increased, seeing as most of our players, or a lot of our players, actually play in Sweden at the moment,” she said.
“A lot of Swedish players will know our players as friends and they have strong camaraderie with them but as soon as they step over that white line …”
She said it was a great opportunity to showcase how the team is building towards the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Multi-million-dollar refurbishment ahead of World Cup
In announcing the November game, the Victorian government also revealed $25 million worth of upgrades for the stadium’s lighting, video screens and broadcast facilities, as well as player, corporate and spectator amenities.
“When you’re hosting the games for the FIFA World Cup, 1.5 billion people’s eyes are on you,” Mr Dimopoulos said.
“We want this stadium to be punching above its weight in a digital sense.”
Football Australia welcomed the investment.
“The Women’s World Cup will be the biggest sporting event on our shores since the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games,” Mr Johnson said.
“There’ll be 1.5 million people that enter our stadiums across Australia and New Zealand and there’ll be 1.5 billion people that watch the Women’s World Cup from all around the world.
“To put that into perspective, the AFL Grand Final last year, there were 4 million people who watched the game.”
The work will begin in November.