2023 World Cup
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Australia, New Zealand to host 2023 Women’s World Cup

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Australia and New Zealand will host the 2023 Women’s World Cup, FIFA have confirmed after a vote.

The neighboring countries beat Colombia to host the 2023 World Cup, with the Australia-New Zealand bid beating the Colombian bid by 22-13 in the vote by the FIFA Council.

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FIFA rated the Australia-New Zealand bid as 4.1 out of 5 compared to 2.8 out of 5 for Colombia, so it was quite a surprise to see the voting was even that close.

The fact that Australasia will host the 2023 Women’s World Cup will be a huge boost for the region and it is the first time they will host a major global sporting event since the Sydney Olympics in 2000.

Several youth World Cup tournaments have been held in both countries but this will be the first major FIFA tournament to be held in either country as the nations have bid before to host both the men’s and women’s World Cup.

After the success of the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France and the 2015 edition in Canada, there is huge momentum in the women’s game and the expanded 24-team tournament has been instrumental in that.

This tournament will be the first time that 32 teams will compete at the Women’s World Cup and it is exciting to think where the women’s game will be at in less than three years’ time when this tournament kicks off.

Games will take place in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Newcastle and Launceston in Australia, while Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin will host games in New Zealand.

Locked down, not out: Teenage pro prepares for post-pandemic

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BRISBANE, Australia — He caught the attention of Robbie Fowler, a man revered by some, who gave him a shot at turning pro while still in high school.

That kind of faith ensured Jordan Courtney-Perkins an A-League start last November, and earned him a record as the youngest Brisbane Roar player to make a starting debut in Australia’s top-flight competition.

He quit school after missing so many days late in 2019 to play soccer, including the Under-17 World Cup in Brazil.

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Now there’s no soccer, and no school – at least not for this 17-year-old defender.

The coronavirus pandemic forced the suspension of the A-League in mid-March and, like many clubs around the country, that resulted in Roar players and staff being stood down during the lockdown.

“A lot of things that the coronavirus has caused are terrible things, but there are some positives I can take out of it – like you can reflect on things, really think,” Courtney-Perkins said. “The whole football world and transfers, money and everything, is frozen at the moment.

“It definitely makes you think how you have to take opportunities when they’re there – don’t mess around. This has definitely heightened that.”

There are signs the league will resume in August, but in the meantime Courtney-Perkins is training and working out mostly on his own, living with his parents. He’s keeping in virtual contact with the club, with trainers and teammates and with Fowler, who is back in England but keeping in touch by video and electronic means.

After playing 379 games and scoring 163 goals in the Premier League, mostly at Liverpool, Fowler played a season at the now-defunct North Queensland Fury in 2009-10 and then Perth Glory in 2010-11 in Australia. He returned to Australia in April last year to take over as manager at the Roar on a two-year contract.

And he’s having a big influence, along with technical director Tony Grant, on developing teenage players, including Courtney-Perkins and Izaack Powell, who were both in the Australian Under-17 World Cup squad.

“The Gaffer. Yeah, he’s a good guy. It’s pretty crazy to be playing under a bloke that people call ‘God,'” Courtney-Perkins said, speaking of the nickname the Anfield faithful gave to Fowler. “He’s got a mentality that if you’re good enough, you’ll play. He knows for him on a personal level, in his career, age didn’t matter for him.”

The Roar went on a roll before the lock down, moving up to fourth in the standings and into playoff contention.

After his promising start, Courtney-Perkins injured his knee and went 12 weeks without playing a full 90-minute match, almost an eternity in teen time. But it helped crystallize his life choice of football over school. He’s confident this bigger, more global enforced break from the game isn’t going to hurt him.

“I’m very set on one thing. Mum and Dad will constantly remind me, you know, (life) it’s not just football,” he said. “But I’m just so hell bent on this is what I want.”

The 12 weeks off, he decided, would give him time in the gym and to get fit in other ways “to come back a bigger, better player.” He worked his way back to working with the senior squad.

“I’m pretty good at seeing the positives out of a dim situation,” he said.

The clubs, Football Federation Australia and the player unions have been active in player welfare, asking for daily diaries for personal and training data updates and keeping them connected in order to stay healthy mentally and physically.

Simon Colosimo, the FIFpro deputy general secretary, played for Australia and in Europe in a professional career that started in his teens. His advice for Courtney-Perkins, and for all young pros like him who dream of playing in the world’s biggest leagues, is to value every minute with coaches and senior players because the pandemic just demonstrates how quickly things can change.”

“Every moment you get to have with them builds your football career,” Colosimo said. “A lot of things that are falling into place (now), you can’t influence. What he can do is continue to train hard, work hard. Make sure he finds that right balance.”

Courtney-Perkins has no regrets about leaving school early, although he is doing a diploma that will set him up for work after football – a career change he hopes will be “about 20 years” away.

“I’m loving every minute of it,” he said. “Although sometimes it could be challenging, or people look at you a little bit crazy, like ’one in a million make that career happen.’ But I’m confident in myself because when I want something I’m going to do everything in my power to get it.”

Australia’s A-League suspended until April 22

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SYDNEY — Australian soccer’s A-League has suspended its season indefinitely, bringing an end to all professional football competitions in Australia and New Zealand until the coronavirus pandemic passes.

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Football Federation Australia chief executive James Johnson announced the decision Tuesday, saying the latest measures imposed by the federal government made it impossible for the A-League to continue. The league had only a few regular-season rounds remaining before the playoffs. Johnson said the postponement will be reviewed on April 22.

“As a national competition played in all parts of Australia, as well as New Zealand, mission complicated became mission impossible,” Johnson said.

He remained optimistic the season could resume and said the postponement likely was “heartbreaking” for players, clubs and fans. All soccer in Australia from community to professional level has now been halted.

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“We will feel this,” Johnson said. “We will feel the financial pressure on the game at all levels. The game will survive. Will we need to make changes, be different? I say yes.”

The multi-national Super Rugby competition suspended its season last week and attempts in Australia and New Zealand to create domestic competitions for their teams have been put on hold.

Australian rules’ Australian Football League suspended its season Sunday after only one round. The National Rugby League followed suit on Monday after two rounds. In each case government restrictions on national and international travel, on public gatherings and non-essential activities made continuing untenable.

VIDEO: Sydney derby ends even as A-League continues

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The Sydney Derby ended in a 1-1 draw in Australia’s A-League continued on Saturday.

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One of the only games on the planet took place in an empty stadium as the crosstown rivals locked horns with Sydney FC taking the lead but Western Sydney Wanderers struck late on to grab a point.

Below is a look at what happened at the Bankwest Stadium as Sydney FC remain eight points clear at the top of the table with two games in hand over second-place Melbourne City FC.

WSW are in eighth place on 26 points. Not all A-League games are carrying on amid the coronavirus pandemic but there the Newcastle Jets do host Melbourne City on Monday morning (U.S. time) and a full slate of games is scheduled for next weekend.

If you want to get your soccer fix with most leagues in the world postponed right now, the A-League could well be your answer.

Former Reading striker Adam Le Fondre gave Sydney FC the lead in the first half and celebrated by bowing to the empty stands.

But in the last 10 minutes Western Sydney Wanderers made it 1-1 as Kwame Yeboah didn’t know much about but his incredible reactions deflected home this effort.

China’s women’s team quarantined in Australia over virus fears

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BRISBANE, Australia — China’s national women’s soccer team has been quarantined in Australia ahead of an Olympic qualifying tournament as fears spread about the outbreak of a new virus that has killed more than 130 people.

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Health officials in Queensland state said on Wednesday that 32 people, including players, coaches and staff, traveled through the virus-effected Chinese city of Wuhan a week ago. The team was placed in isolation by border officials after arriving in Brisbane from Shanghai on Tuesday, and will be confined to a Brisbane hotel until Feb. 5.

Queensland Health said the squad was traveling with a team doctor and none has shown symptoms.

The Olympic regional qualifying tournament had been relocated from Wuhan to Nanjing before the Asian Football Confederation moved it to Sydney, Australia, because of concerns over the deadly coronavirus. Now it likely will be delayed.

The tournament had been scheduled to kick off next Monday with a double-header of China against Thailand followed by Australia against Taiwan.

It’s the final stage of regional qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics, which begin in July. The top two teams were supposed to advance to a home-and-away playoff for the last spot at the Olympic tournament.

Football Federation Australia on Wednesday placed a hold on ticket sales for the tournament.

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The Chinese team trained in isolation before departing for Australia and players and staff all underwent testing before departure.

“They went through all the same checks that any Chinese national flying in from China would have gone through,” FFA chief executive James Johnson was quoted as saying by Australian Associated Press. “We’re confident in the government’s checks and balances.”

The FFA said it was notified of the latest advice from Australia’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Brendan Murphy, that health experts believe the coronavirus is contagious before people show symptoms, and contacts of any confirmed cases must be isolated following exposure.

China has cut off access to Wuhan and 16 other cities to prevent people from leaving and spreading the virus further. The outbreak has infected more than 6,000 on the mainland and abroad. British Airways and Asian budget carriers Lion Air and Seoul Air have suspended flights to China and other airlines are reducing the number of flights to the country as demand for travel drops because of the outbreak.