Andrew Pragnell: World Cup success will ‘supercharge’ growth of football

New Zealand Football chief executive Andrew Pragnell says the success of the FIFA Women’s World Cup will ‘supercharge’ growth of the sport and provide more opportunities.

“Football is already the biggest and the fastest growing organised team sport in the country, and this tournament, as well as the numerous legacy programmes we have established, will supercharge it,” he says.

He said the success of the tournament opened the way for New Zealand to host more global events, and co-hosting the World Cup had demonstrated the value of the partnership between the New Zealand and Australian national bodies.

Main photo: NZ Football chief executive Andrew Pragnell. Photo: Andrew Cornaga / Phototek.

Crowd attendances and television viewing figures showed the strength of support for the tournament’s 29 games in New Zealand:

  • In total, 708,743 spectators attended games in the four host cities, with an average match attendance of 24,439.
  • New records were set for attending a game of football in New Zealand — male or female — with Auckland’s Eden Park having three full-capacity crowds of 43,217.
  • More than a million New Zealanders watch the broadcast of the opening game between the Football Ferns and Norway, the biggest television audience for a football match in two decades.
  • More than 2.1 million viewers had watched the tournament on Prime or Sky Sport, with semi-final and final figures still to come.
  • Nearly 165,000 fans attended FIFA Fan Festivals in the host cities, not including many more who would attend events for the semi-finals and final.
What a full Eden Park looks like … 43,217 spectators.

“This tournament has seen a colossal change in the way football and particularly women’s football is seen in Aotearoa New Zealand”, Pragnell said.

“From the historic opening game at Eden Park which saw the Football Ferns beat former champions Norway, to the dramatic quarter-finals this weekend which gripped the footballing world, this tournament has set a new standard for the FIFA Women’s World Cup going forward.

“I want to thank all of the Kiwis who got behind the event: the over 700,000 people attending games, the thousands of volunteers and support staff, the millions who watched on TV and especially our Football Ferns.

“When New Zealand Football and Football Australia won the hosting rights in the middle of 2020, and a COVID-19 induced lockdown, we knew we had a lot of work ahead of us.

“Three years later, with a lot of mahi and collaboration between FIFA, co-hosts Football Australia, Government, host cities and stadia, regional stakeholders, and ourselves, it has all been worth it.

“Building on the success of the Cricket and Rugby World Cups played in 2022, the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 has shown that Aotearoa New Zealand can deliver world-class major events and has really put us on the map for global events moving forward.

“This event has also underlined the strengthened partnership New Zealand Football have with Football Australia which bodes well for the future of football development in both countries.”

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Eden Park, Auckland. Photo credit: Eden Park.

The host cities

  • Auckland’s Eden Park hosted nine games, drawing 342,422 fans (average 38,047 per game).
  • Hamilton’s FMG Stadium Waikato held five games, with 59,549 spectators (average 11,970).
  • Wellington’s Sky Stadium hosted nine games, with attendance of 231,082 (average 25,676).
  • Dunedin’s Forsyth Barr Stadium held six games, drawing 75,690 fans (average 12,615).

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How the crowds compare

For comparison, the women’s Rugby World Cup held in New Zealand in 2022 drew 150,179 spectators to its 26 games (average 5,776).

In 2011, when New Zealand hosted the men’s Rugby World Cup, the 48-match tournament attracted 1,477,294 spectators (average 30,777). Attendances were helped by larger capacities at stadia such as Eden Park which could hold 60,000 before its redevelopment.

This year’s largest attendance at Eden Park for a Super Rugby match was 23,990 for the Blues-Crusaders, in a competition that generally drew crowds of between 10,000 and 20,000.

The world champion United States were strong drawcards for games in New Zealand.

For the record

Attendances for the games played in New Zealand (in order of size):

43,217 — Switzerland v Spain (Eden Park, Auckland)

43,217 — Japan v Sweden (Eden Park, Auckland)

43,217 —Spain v Sweden (Eden Park, Auckland)

42,958 — United States v Portugal (Eden Park, Auckland)

42,137 — New Zealand v Norway (Eden Park, Auckland)

41,107 — United States v Vietnam (Eden Park, Auckland)

34,697 — Norway v Philippines (Eden Park, Auckland)

33,042 — Japan v Norway (Sky Stadium, Wellington)

32,357 — New Zealand v Philippines (Sky Stadium, Wellington)

32,021 — Spain v Netherlands (Sky Stadium, Wellington)

30,889 — Italy v Argentina (Eden Park, Auckland)

29,143 — Sweden v Italy (Sky Stadium, Wellington)

27,312 — United States v Netherlands (Sky Stadium, Wellington)

25,947 — New Zealand v Switzerland (Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin)

22,966 — Spain v Costa Rica (Sky Stadium, Wellington)

20,983 — Spain v Zambia (Eden Park, Auckland)

20,957 — Japan v Spain (Sky Stadium, Wellington)

18,317 — Sweden v South Africa (Sky Stadium, Wellington)

17,907 — Sweden v Argentina (FMG Stadium Waikato, Hamilton)

16,111 — Zambia v Japan (FMG Stadium Waikato, Hamilton)

14,967 — South Africa v Italy (Sky Stadium, Wellington)

13,711 — Philippines v Switzerland (Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin)

11,991 — Netherlands v Portugal (Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin)

10,769 — Switzerland v Norway (FMG Stadium Waikato, Hamilton)

8,834 — Argentina v South Africa (Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin)

8,215 — Vietnam v Netherlands (Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin)

8,117 — Costa Rica v Zambia (FMG Stadium Waikato, Hamilton)

6,992 — Japan v Costa Rica (Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin)

6,645 — Portugal v Vietnam (FMG Stadium Waikato, Hamiton)

Total attendance: 708,743

Average attendance: 24,439

Benefits of hosting the tournament

More girls and boys want to play football for the first time, pubs and restaurants are trading at midsummer levels and organisers say the New Zealand economy is $200 million better off.

These are among the benefits of New Zealand’s co-hosting of the FIFA Women’s World Cup according to a 1News report:

READ MORE: Record books rewritten as crowds get behind FIFA Women’s World Cup >>>>

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