Bareman's sights on 2023 Women's World Cup

Samoan former Football Federation Samoa (F.F.S.) Chief Executive Officer and Chief Women’s Football Officer at F.I.F.A., Sarai Bareman, has set her sights on the 2023 Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

She says the tournament, which will be watched by an estimated audience of more than 1 billion people, will bring opportunities to grow women's football in the region.

The New Zealand-born former Samoan national football player, has a Samoan mother and a Dutch father. She told  that the opportunity to grow the women’s game in the Asia-Pacific region has immense potential following the vote to award hosting to Australia and New Zealand.

“It is hugely important. It is the first time a Women's World Cup has been hosted in that region. It is the first time that two confederations will jointly host a Women’s World Cup. It will have a massive impact,” she said in the interview.

“We have already seen off the back of France 2019 the increase in participation in the women's game - especially in Europe. I saw figures for example in England. More than 800,000 women and young girls are joining grassroots programs after France.

“I know this will be the same in Asia and the Pacific. It excites me that it will result in many more opportunities for young girls in that region.”

Looking back at her own football background in New Zealand, Ms Bareman said she was well supported and had access to a club and infrastructure. But she believes that the 2023 F.I.F.A. Women’s World Cup would be a catalyst for change in women’s football. 

“I think this Women’s World Cup will act as a catalyst and is going to open up so many eyes to how big women's football is, and what a huge opportunity exists for the women's game,” she said. 

But it was the success of the 2019 F.I.F.A. Women’s World Cup in France that has laid the foundation for her growing optimism about the potential of the tournament in 2023 in Australia and New Zealand.

When asked why the last Women’s World Cup was the best yet, Ms Bareman said: 

“Well for me it was the best because it represented the culmination of so many hours, days, weeks and months of hard work. 

“For everybody involved, so much effort had gone into making this World Cup the success that it was. What we achieved in France was definitely one of the proudest moments of my career.

“It was such a success in terms of the spectators and broadcast views. That made it all the sweeter. In the women's football world, the F.I.F.A.Women's World Cup is like a beacon; the very top of the pyramid. 

“It is the biggest event we have every four years to showcase our sport and our athletes. It did it in the best possible way, and really opened the eyes of the world to what women’s football is all about.”

One of the successes of France 2019 was the record number of viewers it attracted globally with a record 1.12 billion tuning in to watch. 

Ms. Bareman told that they initially targeted one billion in broadcaster viewership but were able to exceed that goal. 

“I think it is what separated France from many of the previous editions of the tournament. More than one billion people from all around the world have access to our sport, tuning in to watch it. This was a game-changing moment for women’s football,” she said. 

Going forward in terms of the development of women’s football, Ms. Bareman said  the Zurich-based football governing body plans to invest US$1 billion over the next four years in what she described as “tailor-made dedicated development programs” for their 211 member associations. 

“We have a very specific women's football strategy that we are implementing and there is targeted research we are carrying out currently, to accelerate the professionalisation of women's football,” she said. 

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