Saturday 07 May 2022, 22:00

Auckland/Tāmaki Makaurau, latest stop on FIFA Women’s World Cup™ host cities tour

Auckland/Tāmaki Makaurau, New Zealand’s largest city, was the latest destination for a FIFA mission visiting each of the host cities of next year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup™, jointly hosted by Australia and New Zealand. A visit to the legendary Eden Park stadium kicked off activities, where the group, led by FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura received a pōwhiri (welcome) to the stadium from Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei (elders) led by their Chair Marama Royal. A tour of Eden Park, which will host the opening match of the FIFA Women’s World Cup, as well as six group matches, followed. The venue has a capacity of 48,376 for sporting events and is the first in Australasia to earn the globally recognised WELL Health-Safety seal, an evidence-based, independent accreditation that a building or space has taken necessary steps to prioritise the health and safety of staff, visitors and stakeholders.

Sustainability is a priority at the stadium and new LED sports and emergency lighting is being installed to replace existing Halogen lights. All food made on site is packaged and sold in commercially compostable products and all match day waste generated from events sorted into compostable, recycling and landfill.

The venue collects and treats rainwater on-site and by using it to water the field, Eden Park saves up to 16 million litres of town water per year. It is also home to several beehives in the Morningside Market Garden, which is managed by a group of refugees who also cultivate the Park’s compost bins. Outside Eden Park the FIFA group met Hannah Wilkinson. A Football Ferns striker with 105 caps and 27 goals, she is also an accomplished musician and artist and was painting a wall mural - in celebration of the women’s cricket, rugby and football World Cups being hosted in New Zealand this year and next - when she met the FIFA delegation.

A visit to New Zealand Football’s HQ, Football House, to meet with President, FIFA Council member and OFC Council member Joanna Wood and New Zealand Football’s Secretary General Andrew Pragnell and staff followed. At Football House the delegation discussed women’s football development, the various initiatives that New Zealand Football is putting in place in the post Covid-19 environment and the recommencement of national community football for all ages from 6 May, with representatives of New Zealand Football. A meeting with representatives from New Zealand’s sport and tourism sectors concluded the delegation’s mission to Auckland. In discussions with Raelene Castle, CEO of Sport New Zealand, René de Monchy, CEO of Tourism New Zealand and Dave Downs, CEO of New Zealand Story the FIFA Secretary General evoked the importance of embracing the culture of New Zealand and Australia’s indigenous and aboriginal peoples in the build up to, and throughout the FIFA Women’s World Cup saying: “The ninth edition of the FIFA Women’s World Cup will take place among the rich tapestry of culture, tradition and language of the indigenous and aboriginal peoples of Australia and New Zealand.

"We look forward to working with them to learn more about their cultures and how we can respectfully celebrate them with football fans and teams when they arrive here in the Southern Hemisphere.”