Football: Wellington Phoenix to push for W-League licence, after FIFA praises trans-Tasman World Cup bid

Phoenix general manager David Dome.
Phoenix general manager David Dome. Photo credit: Photosport

Wellington Phoenix general manager David Dome insists it's time to push for a professional NZ-based women's team to compete in the Australia's W-League.

The Phoenix have announced they will continue to push for a W-League license, after a FIFA bid evaluation report for the 2023 Women's World Cup said New Zealand and Australia ranked the highest of the three finalists. 

The trans-Tasman effort scored an average of 4.1 out of five, with Japan tallying 3.9 and Colombia 2.8. The world football body will announce the winner on June 25. 

The Phoenix have previously pushed for a W-League team, but Dome feels the club needs to execute the plan now.

The impact of COVID-19 will pose financial challenges, but the chance to develop professional women’s football with a World Cup bid in play is too good to turn down.

"More so than ever, there are some significant financial and logistical challenges around professional sport, but I believe that with the strong support of some key stakeholders, and most importantly of all the added prospect of a FIFA Women's World Cup in Australia and New Zealand in 2023, this is an unprecedented and unique opportunity that may never present itself again," explains Dome. 

''We had made significant progress pre-COVID and if we are to look at this positively, we have a very sound base to continue to build from.

''Notwithstanding we still have yet to resolve some not insignificant financial considerations, I think, given the macro environment with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to host a World Cup on the horizon and the support of some key stakeholders that will help us shoulder the burden, a professional women's team out of Oceania is more important and achievable than ever before.

''A professional women's football, as a legacy outcome for a World Cup, would be some achievement.'' 

Nine teams currently contest the W-League, with Melbourne City the reigning champions. Football Ferns players Rebekah Stott and Annalie Longo are among the Kiwis in the competition. 

New Zealand Football chief executive Andrew Pragnell says: "The opportunity for a female professional pathway for Kiwi footballers in this part of the world is long overdue, and there is the foundation for a great partnership to build momentum and get this across the line."