Womens’ World Cup is the winner. –Journalist Dave Armstrong
by Roger Childs
Off to a roaring start
There was plenty of hype earlier in the year about the FIFA Womens’ World Cup which New Zealand is currently sharing with Australia. The last few weeks of football in the south Pacific have lived up to that hype. In the first match in late July, the biggest crowd ever to watch football in this country, witnessed the Football Ferns beating Norway at Eden Park. The tournament was off to a great start. The following week another 40,000+ crowd of spectators were at Eden Park to see the Americans play their second game. Then in the first quarter final at the Wellington Caketin on Friday saw 32,000 pack the stands to see Spain beat the Netherlands in a very exciting game. Thousands of overseas fans have poured into the country with the largest group from the United States here to cheer on the top seeds. As a consequence of the massive influx of visitors the hospitality, accommodation and tourism industries have benefitted in a big way.
The standard of play has been very high and even though New Zealand failed to qualify for the round of sixteen, the support for the event has remained intense. Huge numbers having been watching on television, and the provision for half hour highlights packages on the SKY Sports channels has maintained the interest. Kiwis have been seeing “the beautiful game” first hand at its best.
The television coverage of games has been excellent and nothing on the field escapes the many cameras – highlights such as the tense penalty shoot-out which saw the Swedes beat top seeds the USA when a shot came down off the crossbar and landed millimetres over the goal line, and lowlights like England’s Lauren James stomping on Nigerian Michelle Alozie and being sent off.
The four quarter-finals are being played on consecutive days, and on Friday the Spaniards and the Swedes qualified for the last four in Wellington and Auckland respectively. Across the Tasman today the Australian Matildas meet France, and England front up against Colombia. The last New Zealand game will be the Spain v Sweden semi-final in Auckland, and the final will be hosted by Sydney on Sunday 20 August.