Friday 18 August 2023, 14:00

FIFA Women’s Football Convention inspires global football family towards new heights

  • FIFA Women’s Football Convention concluded with a large representation of Member Associations from across the globe

  • Event showcased best practises to further develop women’s football on the back of Australia & New Zealand 2023

  • Day two featured a number of high-profile guests ahead of Sunday’s Final

The inspiration and opportunities provided by the FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023™ was in focus as world football’s family assembled for the second and final day of the FIFA Women’s Football Convention at the Sydney International Convention Centre on Saturday. Following on from a stimulating and expansive programme on day one, and ahead of a potentially epic Women’s World Cup Final on Sunday, focus turned to the final two of five pillars of FIFA’s Women’s Football Strategy: Communicate and Commercialise, and Showcase the Game. The morning commenced with an emotional and rousing address from FIFA’s Chief Women’s Football Officer Sarai Bareman. A from-the-heart delivery covering personal experiences from the past month, and sheer joy at witnessing the growth in the game, left barely a dry eye in the room.

Pillar 4: Communicate & Commercialise

The day’s opening panel chat ‘Role Models Rising’ was hosted by former England striker Ian Wright, with Paralympic superstar Ellie Cole, plus FIFA Women’s World Cup-winners Carli Lloyd and Briana Scurry headlining an impressive roster of big-name guests for the day. The trio reflected on their personal journeys and inspirations. “Without the [USA ‘99] success, I and others wouldn’t be here. At that moment I wanted to be a part of that, to play in the World Cup and the Olympics. It all came together so perfectly, it was truly inspiring and I wouldn’t be here without the success they had.” Carli Lloyd “My role models were my parents because I didn’t have any role models to look up to. Now, our daughters and granddaughters can see these incredible role models doing what they do best. All those countries that were here for the first time now have something to really build on, and it is amazing how powerful that is.” Briana Scurry

‘The Cultural Movement of Women’s Football: The Investors’ was moderated by former international and Football Australia board member Amy Duggan with a discussion featuring Andrea Fairchild (Visa), David Neal (Fox Sports USA) and Christine Holgate (Team Global Express) focussing on the massive commercial opportunities available through women’s football. “Women’s footballers are one of the biggest voices in women’s inequality around the world. We can provide a stage to amplify those voices to fight all of those inequalities. To be able to do that gives us the greatest pleasure, to be able to move things forward and give young girls the ability to have those idols and icons to grow up to, and understand they have something to strive for and to be.” Andrea Fairchild

‘The Cultural Movement of Women’s Football: Creating an Identity’ featured the strategies used to build a brand in women’s football. Featuring Sarah Walsh (Australia), Fabimar Franchi (CONMEBOL), Romy Gai (FIFA) and Kelly Simmons (England) the discussion was moderated by event host Carol Tshabalala. “We looked at the US and their brand, and what successes they have had. We sold a vision to partners, not what the team was three years ago but what we wanted them to be. Talk about brand identity, [and for that] I have to credit the players. This team has gone above and beyond what we expected on and off the pitch. I’m still in disbelief that the semi-final against England was the most watched TV sporting programme in this country.” Sarah Walsh

Pillar 5: Showcase the Game

‘A Tournament of Firsts’ celebrated the many achievements of the past month including an expanded 32-team tournament, the first to be played south of the equator, record crowds and broadcast figures and more. Carol Tshabalala hosted New Zealand Football President Dr. Johanna Wood, Football Australia CEO James Johnson, UEFA Managing Director of Women’s Football Nadine Kessler and Monique Andre, Haiti FA vice-president. “Qualification for this Word Cup was a great source of pride and joy. We have previous teams in youth World Cups and the men’s team in 1974 but this time was different and an unforgettable moment for the whole nation. In the context of fragility and insecurity that we live with on a daily basis, I’m speechless. The emotions going through the whole country and since the qualification [meant] there was a full nation’s support and the players saw their dream came true.” Monique Andre

‘Football Technology at the FIFA Women’s World Cup’ was presented by the FIFA representatives Johannes Holzmüller and James France-Sargeant who spoke in detail about Australia & New Zealand 2023 technology including in-stadium announcements from referees following VAR intervention, semi-automatic offside technology and the newly-introduced player app. “This edition of the Women’s World Cup was the most technological advanced in history. The FIFA Player App enabled every player to look at their player tracking metrics, how far they ran, distance travelled and allowed them to assess their performance after every match. We are pleased to say that over 400 players downloaded and used this app during the tournament.” James France-Sargeant

FIFA Head of Refereeing, Women, Kari Seitz spoke in detail about the lengthy preparation and investment that FIFA has made ahead of the tournament in her ‘Refereeing in Focus’ presentation. “We know Women’s World Cup expectations increase every four years. Our job is to make sure the match officials make or exceed the expectations. We can see how the game has changed and the level of investment that needs to happen to keep up with it. To stay ahead, FIFA Refereeing has invested a lot of money to support this competition. The team we invest in is ultimately just like a professional team, a national team. This tournament demands a lot and everyone expects the very best. We have a very similar approach for the men’s World Cup, but actually the investment for the Women’s World Cup is even higher.” Kari Seitz

The panel discussion concluded with a preview of the FIFA Women's World Cup Final with Amy Duggan hosting two-time Women’s World Cup-winning coach Jill Ellis, Ian Wright and FIFA Legend Melissa Ortiz. The trio reflected on their tournament highlights, on-field developments, expectations for the tournament finale and how England and Spain shape up ahead of the big match. FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura signed off the convention and called on global football’s leaders and stakeholders to invest in women’s football following on from Australia & New Zealand 2023. She also thanked the Australian Government after Prime Minister Anthony Albanese promised to invest AUD 200 million to develop women’s football in the country. The Secretary General received a rousing standing ovation following her lengthy contribution and involvement in the lead-up to the 2023 Women’s World Cup.