Catherine Ordway: The Women’s World Cup has set the benchmark, now let’s not drop the ball


In this LinkedIn article, WOB Member Catherine Ordway - Sport Integrity Research Lead and Associate Professor at University of Canberra - reflects on the legacy of the FIFA Women’s World Cup and why we mustn’t lose momentum. 


The FIFA Women's World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023™ (WWC) has come to an end. Like many people, I am reflecting on this very special and unique moment in history that I feel privileged to have both witnessed, and contributed to in a small way.

The FIFAWWC has turned attitudes towards womens sport on its head in this country, and hopefully other parts of the world, which will have a lasting legacy. As I said in a recent radio interview, I feel like this is the first day of the new world! This WWC has set the benchmark, and men’s sport, and men in sport, have a lot to learn from this WWC.

Also read: Ex-Matilda Moya Dodd and Catherine Ordway on FIFA Gender Equality and Women’s World Cup

In July 2018, I asked my Masters of Sport Management students to prepare a risk analysis on the Football Australia (FA) Bid for the WWC 2023. Noting that FIFA had not even released the Bid criteria for the WWC at that late stage, we used the criteria for the Men’s World Cup and brought in lawyer and ex-Matilda, Tal Karp to present to the class on the strengths and weakness, threats and opportunities as she saw them (prior to NZ joining as co-host). 

Astonishingly, given what we have seen transpire, every group analysis concluded that FA should NOT bid as the financial risk was too great – primarily because the sponsors, broadcasters and fans would have insufficient time to leverage their support for the WWC. Fast forward 5 years, and we have seen dreams fulfilled, every record broken and every negative pre-conception shattered.

Yet, FIFA has been slow on the uptake – and has still not announced the 2027 WWC host nation to allow the momentum of the brilliant hosting efforts by AUS and NZ to be surpassed. Why wouldn’t FIFA use the opportunity of the closing ceremony to celebrate the continuation of the tradition that began in 1989?

During the WWC, I was lucky enough to be inside the stadium for 6 matches (including 3 Matildas games), attended 8 events/ conferences (4 of which I presented at), had a book chapter AND an article for The Conversation published and did 9 WWC radio/ newspaper interviews.  It was a thrill to meet gender equality icon, Billy Jean King in Sydney. I was also privileged to attend the Gender Equality Symposium in Brisbane hosted by Senator Penny Wong and Minister Anika Wells MP. Inspiring forums where I was able to finally meet Madison de Rozario OAM and the Afghan Women’s Football team, led by the formidable, Khalida Popal.

I passionately believe that women’s stories about their journeys and successes in sport need to be brought to mainstream attention, and the WWC provided the platform to amplify that message.  It was an extraordinary event that brought footballing and non-football people together. It was such joy to be able to connect with people across the globe, reconnect with friends and colleagues, and meet people F2F that I otherwise only knew online.

We clearly have more work to do, and we need to use this momentum to create more change – faster, so that the next generation of girls AND boys can enjoy a fairer and more equitable world!

Further Reading

Media commentary

This article first appeared on LinkedIn HERE
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