Tottenham Hotspur and former Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglu has issued a sobering message to Australian sport, saying that the Maltidas’ World Cup success will not bring any extra investment into the game.
“When you look at what the Matildas did at the World Cup: unbelievable. But you still won’t see an influx of resources to the game. You won’t, I guarantee it,” he said.
“I just don’t think the nation as a whole has that inside them to understand you can make an impact on the world of football, but it requires a kind of nationalistic approach that I just don’t think Australians at their core are really interested in.”
The success of the Matildas — who finished fourth after being knocked out of the tournament by eventual runners-up England in the semi-finals — was widely touted as a watershed moment for men’s and women’s soccer in Australia.
Virginia Hyland told B&T that the Seven’s deal for the Women’s World Cup TV rights — speculated to be worth between $4-5 million — was a “tragedy” for women’s sport adding that there was some $600 million of investment made into sports that did not receive anywhere like the same viewership as the Matildas games.
The semi-final match between Australia and England received some 11 million viewers across linear and 7plus, making it the most-watched TV event since OzTam records began.
It is also speculated that the Tillies’ performances led to Optus recovering $1 billion in brand value, alleviating the damage done by the firm’s huge data breach late in 2022.
However, in Postecoglu’s mind, these achievements and the success of the Matildas’ cannot compete with the strength of the other sporting codes in Australia and the global nature of football.
“I just don’t see it,” he told reporters. “I don’t think it registers. You guys are only talking about it [Australian football] because of me.”
Football Australia has claimed its Legacy23 program around the Women’s World Cup had unlocked more than $350 million in government investment. The APL developed its first-ever major funding submission to the Australian federal government this year, seeking $12 million in funding. Nothing has been committed yet, though there are ongoing discussions.
It would stand to reason that the prices for Matildas’ sponsorship have massively increased since the World Cup. However, with the next AFC Women’s Asian Cup and World Cup not due to take place until 2026 and 2027, respectively, interest may have significantly waned.
Plus, with many of the top Tillies talents plying their trade in Europe, opportunities for fans to catch a glimpse of the stars at a reasonable hour are few and far between.
“If I can compare that to a country like Japan who also have the tyranny of distance – and baseball’s pretty strong – they plant a lot of resources into football and you can see that that’s making an impact,” added Postecoglu.
“I don’t see Australia down that road.”
The Tillies’ success — if one can claim fourth place is truly a success — was fantastic to behold. But unless brands continue to highlight women’s football in their campaigns, it seems unlikely that the success will truly cut through to mainstream Australia.
Lead image credit: Tottenham Hotspur/ X.
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