Asia-Pacific industry reacts to the award of the 2023 Women’s World Cup

MILAN, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 22: The FIFA Women World Cup 2023 Winner's Trophy is on display during the FIFA Football Conference - Analysis on the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup at Palazzo Del Ghiaccio on September 22, 2019 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Tullio Puglia - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

  • Asia-Pacific industry reacts to the Women’s World Cup award
  • Brands expected to be drawn by diversity and inclusion agenda
  • Public-service broadcasters look forward to rights distribution

The 2023 Fifa Women’s World Cup could be a watershed moment for women’s sport in the Asia-Pacific region. The joint bid from Australia and New Zealand which secured the 2023 WWC was a mature, understated and focused campaign, as the pitch honed in on the sport and away from the tired clichés associated with both countries.

In its evaluation report for the bid, Fifa said the joint proposal offered a variety of options in terms of the sporting and general infrastructure required to stage the tournament,  scoring it 4.1 out of 5, higher than the other two countries bidding for the tournament, Japan and Colombia, which scored 3.9 and 2.8, respectively.

After the bid secured strong financial commitments from each country’s government, Fifa also perceived it as the most “commercially-favourable”.

SportBusiness asked several experts for their thoughts on the implications of tournament for the Asia-Pacific sports industry.

Joanne Warnes, agency director at Octagon in Singapore, has more than 20 years of experience in sport and entertainment, sponsorship activation, event management and experiential marketing. She has an in-depth knowledge of the global sports marketing landscape and has worked with brands such as Barclays, Wanda and Coca-Cola, and sports properties from the ATP World Tour Finals to the Fifa World Cup.

“At a time when the global sporting industry has been brought to its knees, and with woman’s sport expected to be impacted disproportionately, for Australia and New Zealand to be made the winning hosts of the Fifa Women’s World Cup 2023 is truly significant, not only to the domestic markets but Apac more broadly.

“Over the past two years the participation in women’s football in Apac has increased by 12 per cent and Asian women’s football has excelled on the world stage. This is evident as five Asian teams occupy the Top 20 in the Fifa World Rankings.

“Conservative attendance projections say FWWC2023 will be 10 times larger than the hugely successful ICC Women’s T20 cricket tournament hosted in Australia earlier in 2020, which points in a positive direction for potential investment by brands who are supporting or looking to support the game.

“Beyond the pandemic we are still living through, we have witnessed the resurgence of the D&I (diversity and inclusion) agenda through Black Lives Matter, which serves as an opportunity for brands to look at the FWWC not only on commercial terms but also in terms of how they can champion social progress.

“Consumers are increasingly demanding that brands stand for something, provided they are authentic with their intent and delivery. Investment into women’s football can be beneficial to driving the cause-related agenda around equality, diversity and inclusion, whilst further supporting growth of the game.”

Sam Goodwin is managing director at CSM Sport & Entertainment Australia, part of CSM Sport and Entertainment, which is in turn part of the Chime Challenger Network, a global integrated marketing and brand experience agency working across sport, entertainment, media and social impact.

“A World Cup of any kind is always a positive for raising awareness and profile of the sport in the host nation. We should see participation levels increase and probably an influx of fans into domestic football offerings.

“As interest levels increase, commercial deals are more likely to be struck, there will be investment in infrastructure and facilities, and there should be a boom for women’s sport, for football, and for sport in general.

“The trick is sustaining that interest. All major events these days talk at length about their legacy impact, and the organising committee will have planning dedicated to making a lasting difference to the sport in Australia and New Zealand. These plans have not always been effective for previous major events, with many countries bearing a financial burden or ill-conceived infrastructure as a hangover from major events.

“Football is not the number one sport in either of the host nations, so the challenge for the FFA and NZF will be to take the buzz of the tournament, stretch it out, and try and make some long-overdue inroads into the national sporting psyches.

“In Australia, where the Matildas are one of the most loved of the national sporting teams, soccer nevertheless languishes behind the other footballing codes of rugby league and Aussie rules, both of which are now advancing into the women’s sport space as well.

“Add a significant shift in structure for the code’s domestic competitions, with the A-League separating its commercial operations from the FFA, and the hosting of this tournament comes at a pivotal time for the sport in Australia.”

Adrian New, director of football initiatives at AIA Insurance, based in Hong Kong, has worked in sport since 1992. In 2016, he joined AIA with responsibility for the AIA partnership with Tottenham Hotspur. Among previous roles, New was managing director for Asia for Chelsea FC, with responsibility for all commercial activities of the club in Asia.

“As a brand that is dedicated to helping people live healthier, longer, better lives, at AIA we are always delighted to see any initiative that raises awareness of fitness, sport and healthy competition, and the Women’s World Cup coming to Australia/New Zealand in 2023 is a great example of this happening.

“Children need active role models in their lives and the chance to see the best women footballers in the world playing here in Apac should be a fantastic inspiration for young women players across the region.

“We have already supported the development of women’s football through grassroots training programmes and sponsorship of the Persija Women’s team in Indonesia, who have benefited from training sessions with Tottenham Hotspur coaches in Asia and London.

“I’m delighted to see the biggest event in women’s football coming to this side of the world and am hopeful that we will see another world champion from the region.”

Ken Shipp is director of sport at public-service broadcaster the Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) in Sydney, Australia, where he oversees all aspects of sports broadcasts, including on-air and digital, and is responsible for strategy and the rights negotiations of the network’s most important properties. He has led teams delivering major events including all seven Fifa World Cups since 1994.

“We’d love to secure the rights to the 2023 Fifa Women’s World Cup. At this stage we’re awaiting further details regarding the rights bidding process. The Fifa Women’s World Cup will give a huge boost to the women’s game in Australia and New Zealand, and will help to drive fan interest and increase revenue streams. Additionally, this will support the Australian W-League and help it become self-sustainable for the future.”

Cate Slater is director of content at TVNZ and also leads the company’s content licensing business. Slater previously worked with IMG in Europe, Australia and New Zealand negotiating content rights. During the 2011 Rugby World Cup, she was head of legal and business affairs for the commercial programme, which IMG managed on behalf of Rugby World Cup Limited.

“It’s fantastic news to see New Zealand and Australia confirmed as hosts for the 2023 Fifa Women’s World Cup, an event that will undoubtedly entertain large live crowds as well as television audiences.

“We’re sure the media rights will have a lot of trans-Tasman interest, with women’s sport finally receiving the profile it deserves amidst the anticipation for this global event.

“The influx of visitors will no doubt be a huge boost for the wider New Zealand economy, with the arrival of large support crews and many fans visiting New Zealand for this event.”

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