Wednesday 02 August 2023, 07:45

FIFA President meets Australia Prime Minister Anthony Albanese

  • Gianni Infantino thanked the Prime Minister for Australia’s co-hosting of the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023™

  • Australia is showing “fantastic enthusiasm” for the tournament, Mr Infantino said

  • Football Australia CEO James Johnson said the tournament has already left a legacy

FIFA President Gianni Infantino has met the Australia Prime Minister Anthony Albanese at Parliament House in Canberra and thanked him for the country’s hosting of the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023™ alongside Aotearoa New Zealand. Accompanied by the Football Australia Chair and the CEO, Chris Nikou and James Johnson respectively, and FIFA Deputy Secretary General Football Mattias Grafström, Mr Infantino also met the Australia Minister of Sport Anika Wells and addressed parliamentarians as FIFA brought the FIFA Women’s World Cup™ trophy to the Australian capital. “It's a joy to be here in Canberra to meet Prime Minister Albanese, to meet the Minister of Sport, to meet all the parliamentarians and to see that their hearts are all beating for football, for this World Cup, for the Matildas, and it’s fantastic,” said Mr Infantino. “I want to say a big, big thank you to Australia and to co-hosts New Zealand, and to be here and see this enthusiasm in this historic place is fantastic.”

“I had a great discussion with the Prime Minister Albanese earlier today, I had already met him at the G20 in Bali last year and he is a great leader, a great sports fan,” he added. “We will have to cope with the big demand of girls and boys wanting to play football after this World Cup. This will become the number one sport in Australia, as it is all over the world. Every sport is great but football is fantastic, the best sport.” “The (Women’s) World Cup has had a great reception in Australia and New Zealand, we have been welcomed everywhere, people are warm, we feel at home every day from the first day.” Australia’s Matildas have reached the round of 16 and Mr Infantino encouraged Australians to show their support at home. “This has created special excitement in the country, so I am asking every Australian to hang an Australian flag or a Matildas scarf out of the window the to support Australia and support the World Cup.”

Anika Wells spoke of football’s power to bring a country into the spotlight. “No other sport like football – the beautiful game, the world game – has the ability to mark the national significance, into lifting our country in the eyes of the world. This is an invitation for us to consider how our country is considered in the eyes of the world, and no other sport gives us the entry into diplomacy and into sporting diplomacy that this world game does.”

Mr Johnson said that Australia was already seeing the benefits of hosting the tournament. “Our purpose in bidding was trying to use the power of the Women’s World Cup to transform the local sport and that's why we launched Legacy 23 two-and-a-half years ago,” he said. “Today, we are living Legacy 23. We are seeing more Australians participate every day, we are seeing upgrades to stadiums and infrastructure at the community level, a world-class brand in the Matildas and an equally impressive high-performance programme that has come to life and that must be maintained beyond the Women’s World Cup.”