Football World Cup: Matildas heroics prompt increased funding for women's sport in Australia

Australia's Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has promised A$200 million (NZ$215m) for women's sport, after the Matildas' run to a maiden Football World Cup semi-final.

The Aussie women face Sweden in the third-place playoff at Brisbane, after a heartbreaking 3-1 loss to England ended their best-ever run at the tournament.

The success has sparked calls for more funding of women's soccer, which has struggled in a market dominated by Australian Rules football and rugby league.

Sam Kerr celebrates her goal against England.
Sam Kerr celebrates her goal against England. Photo credit: Getty Images

Albanese says the funds will be used to improve sports facilities and equipment for women and girls, with soccer expected to need "significant resourcing", after the Matildas' standout campaign.

The government will also work to ensure "iconic" women's sporting events like the World Cup semi-final are available for Australians to watch for free, he says, after criticism that many World Cup games were behind paywalls.

"The Matildas have given us a moment of national inspiration," he said. "This is about seizing that opportunity for the next generation, and investing in community sporting facilities for women and girls around Australia.

"We want women and girls everywhere in Australia to have the facilities and the support to choose a sport they love."

The government tipped A$44 million (NZ$47m) into hosting the World Cup. A further $40 million was allocated for grassroots programmes and to help fund the Matildas' recently opened training base at Melbourne.

Even so, after Australia's defeat to England, captain Sam Kerr called for more funding to ensure the World Cup was more than just a sugar rush for women's soccer in Australia.

National governing body Football Australia has welcomed the funding boost, with chief executive James Johnson saying it has arrived "at a poignant moment".

"With the FIFA Women's World Cup reaching new heights, we anticipate a further surge of up to 20 percent in grassroots participation," said Johnson.

Football Australia will also hope to keep the women's game relevant by hosting more international fixtures, after hosting the 2015 Men's Asian Cup and a successful bid for the 2026 women's event.


Join Newshub at 10pm Sunday for live updates of the England v Spain World Cup final