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Not FIFA compliant - but Hindmarsh to host Women's World Cup

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Coopers Stadium is set to host games in the 2023 Women’s soccer World Cup – despite its operator conceding a planned $45 million upgrade still won’t make it FIFA-compliant.

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The World Game’s governing body this morning confirmed Adelaide as one of nine host cities across Australia and New Zealand for the tournament – with the opening game to be held in Auckland and the final to be at Sydney’s Stadium Australia.

The Government linked a $45 million commitment to upgrade the capacity of Adelaide United’s home ground at Hindmarsh to its World Cup bid – but the venue’s operator, Adelaide Venue Management Corporation, says that still won’t bring it up to code.

In a written submission to parliament’s Public Works Committee about the project, AVM CEO Anthony Kirchner said: “Coopers Stadium is currently not FIFA compliant, and it will not be compliant on completion of the project.”

“FIFA compliance is not possible at Coopers Stadium without demolishing and reconstructing all stands and increasing existing site boundaries – which is not feasible,” he said.

Kirchner’s submission noted that FIFA “recently rated Coopers Stadium as the worst of the Australian stadia they are considering as possible host venues”.

He noted the venue’s successful includion in Australia’s bid meant “that the adherence to the Project Completion deadline will be critical, and AVM is aiming to have the project completed no later than January 2023”.

However, he added that the upgrade was “not contingent upon the stadium’s possible participation in the World Cup”.

“The upgrade was to proceed regardless,” he said.

Kirchner fronted the committee this morning, telling parliament the $45 million investment would, however, “make it more likely that FIFA will be comfortable providing us with games”.

He said that Adelaide Oval was not compliant with FIFA’s requirements either, although Premier Steven Marshall has previously ruled out holding matches at the city venue – despite being allowed to under the venue’s management agreement.

The Liberal Government withdrew its bid to host the Women’s World Cup in 2019 – before backflipping weeks later, arguing: “We’ve ended up with a good deal.”

In a statement, Sports Minister Corey Wingard told InDaily today: “As FIFA outlined through the bid process, the stadium doesn’t need to be fully compliant in order to host games.”

“FIFA is more focused on the bigger picture and legacy infrastructure to grow the game – and SA’s bid was compelling,” he said.

“FIFA take into account numerous factors when appointing a host city for an event like the Women’s World Cup.”

He said the Government’s planned upgrades, “along with our $24 million investment in the Home of Football at Gepps Cross, impressed FIFA and fit the bill for Adelaide to be named as a host city venue”.

“It is a great result for Adelaide to be part of this massive international event,” he said.

Treasurer Rob Lucas said while the upgrade wouldn’t bring the venue up to code, there was room for further short-term measures “if we have to put in temporary seating in the corners or whatever it is we have to do”.

He said the event team had met with FIFA “and they said ‘hey, this is what we’ve got, this is what we’re going to have, this is what we can do’, so they’re aware of that and obviously awarded it to Adelaide”.

Lucas said he wasn’t privy to the discussions but “FIFA is well aware of whatever commitments we gave”.

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