When the 2023 Women’s World Cup kicks off this week in neighboring hosts Australia and New Zealandwill mark the beginning of the first women’s tournament to transcend borders, and the first of any World Cup since 2002, when the men’s tournament was played in Japan and South Korea.
There are more than 3,300 miles between the easternmost venues of New Zealand and the westernmost host, Perth, in Australia. That’s roughly 500 miles more than the contiguous United States, a reality that caused some logistical changes for this summer’s tournament and has resulted in wildly disparate travel distances for teams.
More from Sportico.com
The group stages, for example, were localized, with each of the 32 teams assigned to a single country for the first leg of the tournament. Four of the eight groups will play their first round of the tournament in Australia, while the other half will take refuge in New Zealand. But perhaps the biggest change of all is the introduction of team base camps, which have long been used in the men’s tournament, for the first time in Women’s World Cup history.
Centers split essentially evenly between Australia and New Zealand were established, providing teams with a “home from home” complete with training facilities and accommodation to spend the days between the first matches. The goal, FIFA’s director of women’s football Sarai Bareman said of the announcement of the base camps, was to “provide elite environments for the 32 teams to train, rest and recuperate.”
But even with base camps, some teams will still travel great distances during the month-long competition, especially those playing the first round in Australia, where thousands of miles lie between some of the cross country venues where a handful of teams will play. groups.
The Republic of Ireland travel the furthest of the 32 teams during the first round. In total, there are 8,260 kilometers (or more than 5,100 miles) between group stage matches in Sydney, Perth and Brisbane. That’s nearly three times the average distance between group stage venues (2,823km) and doesn’t account for stops at their Brisbane base camp in between.
The Girls in Green are not alone. With two games in Perth separated by one in Sydney, Denmark it has 7,863 kilometers (about 4,900 miles) between its venues. More than 7,000 kilometers also stand between Jamaica matches during the first two weeks of the tournament.
The common denominator between the federations that must travel further? Games played in Perth, the capital of Western Australia.
Unlike, Zambia and Norway will travel just 246 and 247 kilometers, respectively, between their six group stage matches, all played in either Auckland or Hamilton, New Zealand. The only other three-figure travelers are Italy and Swedenwhose group will also play in Aotearoa.
In some cases, base camp locations provide an added advantage. For example, Sweden base camp is in the New Zealand capital, Wellington, the same city where it plays its first two group stage matches. But in the case of a country like Irelandstopping at the team’s base camp in Brisbane between each round would add more than 1,200 kilometers to the team’s already heavy travel record.
“Everyone expects a certain amount of travel at a World Cup, especially one that is in two countries, one of which is very large,” said Aaron Heifetz, director of communications for the US women’s national team. staff members accompanying the US team during their month-long tour of Australia. “But that’s normal. The men’s World Cup in one city was very unusual.”
Last year’s men’s World Cup was held in Qatar, which is an area slightly smaller than the state of Connecticut. The two most distant locations were only a two-hour drive away.
“Unless you’re going to Perth, distances aren’t really a factor,” said Heifetz, who will mark her eighth World Cup with the women’s team this summer. “Keep in mind that in past World Cups we had to travel to every game. we went everywhere France, even though it was the same time zone. In the World Cup in Canada we played in Vancouver, Montreal, until we got to Ottawa. Having a base camp is glorious to stay in one place for three weeks, even if you’re going in and out of games.”
(New Zealand is four hours ahead of Perth and two hours ahead of the other Australian sites.)
The US base camp is conveniently located in Auckland, also the site of two of the team’s three group stage matches, which it became familiar with earlier this year during its January training camp in New Zealand. . That period served as a test for the team’s group roster, ending with a pair of matches against New Zealand’s Football Ferns at the two venues where the USWNT will play all three World Cup group stage matches.
Moving on to the round of 16, the schedule becomes a little less certain, but US Soccer has mapped out every possible path the team could take based on their finish.
“I call it the traveling circus, which has a bit of a negative connotation, but it’s like a big show where we move from hotel to hotel and from city to city,” Heifetz said. “The rhythm is very familiar to the players. The team and staff are well versed in how we move our group. We have a fantastic group of back room staff and they know how to pack, let’s put it that way. It’s all very organized.”
Perhaps there are some lessons to be learned from the women’s tournament before 2026, when CanadaMexico and the United States will jointly host the next men’s World Cup.
With the help of Molly Geary.
The best of Sportico.com