‘Revisit Brisbane 2032 soccer venues’


Football Australia CEO talking about stadiums Image: AAMI Park, Gary Houston, CC0

James Johnson, Chief Executive of the Football Australia national governing body, has called for a review and rethink of the stadiums selected as host venues for soccer at the 2032 Brisbane Olympics in that country (Australia).

‘Sportcal’ stated that Johnson spoke to Members of Australia’s Parliament recently and said that various venues chosen to put on soccer matches at the Olympics in nine years’ time were simply not big enough.

Football Australia is the governing body of soccer, futsal and beach soccer within Australia, headquartered in Sydney. Although the first governing body of the sport was founded in 1911, Football Australia in its current form was only established in 1961 as the Australian Soccer Federation.

The 2032 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XXXV Olympiad and also known as Brisbane 2032, is an upcoming international multisport event proposed to be held between July 23rd-August 8th, 2032 in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

‘Sportcal’ further stated that Johnson also mentioned, in the context of the country needing to invest in its soccer infrastructure, a potential bid for the 2034 men’s FIFA World Cup national teams’ tournament. Australia missed out on hosting the 2022 edition, which went to Qatar, and has been assessing the potential of a bid for 2034 for the last two years.

The 2034 FIFA World Cup™ will be the 25th FIFA World Cup™, a quadrennial international football tournament contested by the men’s national teams of the member-associations of FIFA.

Johnson’s comments come on the back of Australia – alongside New Zealand – successfully staging the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup™ across July and August. That tournament secured records in terms of attendance, viewership and merchandise revenue.

The 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup™ was the ninth edition of the FIFA Women’s World Cup™, the quadrennial international women’s football championship contested by the women’s national teams and organized by FIFA. The tournament, which took place from July 20th to August 20th, 2023 was jointly hosted by Australia and New Zealand. It was the first FIFA Women’s World Cup with more than one host nation, as well as the first World Cup to be held across multiple confederations, as Australia is in the Asian confederation, while New Zealand is in the Oceanian confederation. It was also the first Women’s World Cup to be held in the Southern Hemisphere.

Speaking to the Australian Senate’s Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Committee, Johnson said, “In my view, the stadia available [for 2032] are not big enough for soccer. I can categorically say that. If this is what the case is for 2032, there are going to be hundreds of thousands of fans that are not going to be able to watch the Matildas [Australia’s women’s national team].”

He added that for the Women’s World Cup, the opening game – Australia vs. Ireland – had to be moved from the designated Sydney Football Stadium with a capacity of 45,000 to Stadium Australia, which has a capacity of 75,000.

On that front, Johnson said, “We would have sold even more than the 75,000 capacity if we had a venue like the Melbourne Cricket Ground [which has a capacity of almost 100,000] available. So, I hope there is an opportunity to look at playing in bigger stadiums at this tournament because we are going to need them.”

Johnson added that the over 2,000-capacity Townsville Stadium in Anandale, Queensland, “would not be able to be included in a future men’s World Cup bid because the minimum stadium requirements for a group stage match in a men’s World Cup is 40,000. Given that the Women’s World Cup averaged 32,000 fans for each game, the 25,000-capacity Townsville Stadium is one example of where we could potentially invest and make a bigger stadium that could be part of a men’s FIFA World Cup™ bid in the future.”

In total, 1.9 million fans watched action from the Women’s World Cup live, a record total for that tournament.

Regarding interaction with the organizers of the 2032 Olympics, Johnson confirmed, “We have not had any consultation with 2032 to this point, and we hope that we will in the months and years to come. The question for us is can some of the decisions that are being taken right now with the Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games can they be taken with a future men’s FIFA World Cup in mind so that there is no leakage of investment?”

Investment leakage means various unpredicted factors that increase the cost of an investment, such as management fees, inflated equipment costs and non-arms length royalties.

Aside from the men’s World Cup in 11 years time, Australia is also aiming to host the 2026 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Women’s Cup.

The 2026 AFC Women’s Asian Cup will be the 21st edition of the AFC Women’s Asian Cup, the quadrennial international football tournament in Asia competed by the women’s national teams in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).

Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia)-based the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) is the governing body of association football, beach football and futsal in some countries/territories in Asia. It has 47 members. The Asian Ladies Football Confederation was the section of AFC who managed women’s association football in Asia.

In August, the New Zealand Football Chief Executive Andrew Pragnell said he would be keen to once again team up with Australia for a men’s FIFA World Cup™ bid.

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