The FIFA Women’s World Cup birthday present that awaited an Auckland family

A 12th birthday present for an Auckland footballer has become a special event for Maria Strong and her family.

Maria Strong bought tickets for the Italy/Argentina game at the FIFA Women’s World Cup so her family could celebrate her son Boston’s birthday at Auckland’s Eden Park.

But it turned out the tickets she bought included the 1,500,000th ticket sold for the tournament, another milestone for the record-breaking tournament co-hosted by New Zealand and Australia.

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To mark the milestone, FIFA president Gianni Infantino greeted Maria Strong, her husband Jason Roxburgh, and their children Isobel (12), Boston (11) and Harry (9) at the stadium.

Main photo: Gianni Infantino meets Maria Strong and family at Eden Park. Photo credit: FIFA.

He presented them with a family pass that will admit them to all six remaining games to be played at Eden Park.

‘Every match at Eden Park has had a great atmosphere’

Infantino said:

“I enjoyed my time with them, and it was a real pleasure to invite them to every game here in Auckland, so they can enjoy more family time here at this wonderful stadium.

“Every match at Eden Park so far has had a great atmosphere, and I’m sure the upcoming matches will be the same.”

Maria Strong said:

“Boston is a real football-loving fanatic, so we thought attending this match would be a great family outing

“We purchased the tickets last night and it’s been such a great night. We’re from Botany in Auckland, so caught the train in, and even though it’s a school night, it’s been amazing and so easy.”

‘We loved this game’

With a family-friendly atmosphere and world-class football, she said the family was instantly hooked.

“Aside from when Boston is playing, we haven’t watched much football, but we loved this game, have absolutely loved the atmosphere, and we will be back to watch.”

With 1.5 million tickets sold, the sales target has been passed only five days into the tournament, ensuring these finals will be the most attended FIFA Women’s World Cup in history, surpassing the previous record held by the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015.

The opening games in the tournament have also seen record attendances for a women’s football match in Australia (75,784 for Australia v Republic of Ireland) and Aotearoa New Zealand (42,137 for New Zealand v Norway).

The eight games played in New Zealand so far have attracted 197,265 spectators, an average of 24,658.

For comparison, the 2022 women’s Rugby World Cup sold 150,179 tickets, including the final which was attended by more than 40,000 at Eden Park.


Game played on Monday July 24, 2023
Eden Park, Auckland
Attendance: 30,899

Italy 1 (Cristiana Girelli 87’)
Argentina 0

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