HomeFootball NewsTragic Shooting Casts Shadow over FIFA Women's World Cup 2023 Opener

Tragic Shooting Casts Shadow over FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 Opener

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The opening day of the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 was marred by a shocking shooting incident near team hotels in Auckland, causing distress among the participating squads. The tragedy, which claimed the lives of two victims and the gunman, occurred in close proximity to the hotels of reigning champions the United States, as well as the Philippines and Norway, who were scheduled to play co-hosts New Zealand later in the day.

The Norwegian team, staying just a few hundred meters away from the incident, recounted the unsettling experience. Norway captain Maren Mjelde revealed that the players were awakened by the sound of a helicopter and a flurry of emergency vehicles. Uncertainty filled the air until updates from local media clarified the situation. Despite the disturbance, Mjelde expressed the team’s resolve to maintain focus, stating, “Everyone seems calm and we are preparing as normal for the game tonight.”

FIFA, in a statement, assured that it had been in constant contact with the affected teams, providing necessary support and addressing any potential impact caused by the incident. The New Zealand government confirmed that there was no broader national security threat, ensuring that the tournament would proceed as planned.

The tragic shooting overshadowed what should have been a day of celebration for the first-ever 32-team Women’s World Cup. The tournament has expanded from 24 teams in the previous edition and is being jointly hosted by Australia and New Zealand, with matches taking place across nine cities.

In Sydney, Australia faced the Republic of Ireland in the second game of the tournament, witnessed by an enthusiastic crowd of 80,000. While the Australian team aspires to reach the final, the ambitions of New Zealand’s Football Ferns are more modest. Their aim is to secure their first-ever World Cup victory in their 16th attempt when they face former champions Norway at Auckland’s Eden Park following the opening ceremony.

Meanwhile, the United States, led by Megan Rapinoe, enters the tournament as favorites to clinch an unprecedented third consecutive title and a record-extending fifth overall. Their title defense begins on Saturday against Vietnam in Auckland.

As women’s football continues to thrive, the World Cup’s expansion has brought about substantial increases in prize money. FIFA’s total prize fund, including compensation for clubs releasing players, has reached a record $152 million, a significant rise from $50 million in 2019. However, this figure still falls short in comparison to the $440 million awarded during the men’s World Cup in Qatar last year. In light of this, the Australian team has urged FIFA to address the gender pay gap in international football.

Despite the somber start to the tournament, the focus remains on the excitement and competitive spirit of the Women’s World Cup. As teams battle for glory on the global stage, fans around the world eagerly anticipate witnessing the talent and passion of these exceptional athletes.

 

Jon Fisher
Jon Fisher
Jon has over 20 years' experience in sports journalism having worked at the Press Association, Goal and Stats Perform, covering three World Cups, an Olympics and numerous other major sporting events.

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