Victorian Premier Dan Andrews has announced Rod Laver Arena will be opened up as a live fan site for the Matildas' quarter-final clash with France at the Women's World Cup on Saturday. The Matildas and France will go head-to-head at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane at 5pm (AEST) with a place in the semi-finals on the line.
And while fans in Melbourne have been packing Fed Square to watch the games, they'll now be able to pack into Rod Laver Arena as well - free of charge. The Premier announced on Friday night that gates will open under a "first in, best dressed" system.
“Fed Square went off on Monday for the Matildas. And tomorrow, Rod Laver will too. We’re opening the arena and putting the game on the big screen,” he said.
“Gates 3 and 4 at Rod Laver Arena will open at 3:30pm. There are 12,000 seats which will be first come, first served. There are also Official FIFA Fan Sites at: Federation Square Fan Festival, Melbourne; Gippsland Performing Arts Centre, 32 Kay Street Traralgon; The Park, 12 Watton Street, Werribee; and Bunjil Place, Narre Warren.”
Such is the hype around the Matildas and their run to the quarter-finals, the AFL has also taken extraordinary steps to keep their fans abreast of the Aussie women. The SCG, MCG and Optus Stadium will all set to show the Matildas on their big screens during AFL games on Saturday.
The AFL has even pushed back the start time of Carlton's clash with Melbourne at the MCG from 7.25pm to 7.30, with Channel 7 moving the 6pm news bulletin back an hour so they can show the Matildas game on the main channel in its entirety. AFL fans who attend games at the MCG, SCG and Optus Stadium will all be able to watch the Matildas on the big screen before and after the respective matches.
The SCG will show the Matildas game after the Swans' clash with the Gold Coast Suns at 1.45pm, while Optus Stadium will show it before West Coast take on Fremantle at 8.10pm. Those in attendance at the MCG for the Carlton-Melbourne clash will also be able to watch it before the game at 7.30pm. However it remains unclear whether the MCG will continue showing the Matildas game if it goes past 7.30 - in the event that extra-time or penalties are required.
Optus Stadium CEO Mike McKenna said: “We’re expecting a crowd of more than 50,000 for the Western Derby and we know many of those passionate fans could have been worried about not being able to experience both. As a result, we’re going to screen the Matildas live on the BHP Amphitheatre screen. We’re putting this on for fans coming to the stadium, and would encourage anyone else who wants to see it live to head to the official FIFA Fan Festival site in Forrest Place, which will be open from 3pm on Saturday.”
— GlennInTassie2021 (@GlennRa51774921) August 11, 2023
Awesome….come on Matildas
— Northstorm (@Northstorm20) August 11, 2023
Awesome news. Can you guys make sure there's plenty of trams and trains please.
— FrustratedMelburnian (@belyndar) August 11, 2023
When do the Matildas play? How to watch
Channel 7's decision to push the nightly news back by an hour is rather unprecedented for women's sport in Australia. Live sport is usually shunted to other channels like 7two and 7Mate when the clock hits 6pm, but not on Saturday. The Matildas will be broadcast on Channel 7 from 5-7pm, with the news bulletin to follow.
“Before the World Cup I wondered whether Seven would put the Matildas on the main channel over the AFL," former Hockeyroos player and Channel 7 AFL commentator Georgie Parker said this week.
“Well Seven have just said they’re putting the Matildas on the main channel, pushing back THE NEWS. Unprecedented. The news is the anchor of every network. Huge.”
Will Sam Kerr start against France in quarter-final?
Speaking on Friday, Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson declared Sam Kerr would start against France if she was fully fit to play the 90 minutes. However he opted against changing his starting XI on Saturday, leaving Kerr on the bench.
"I want to be very clear in here now to say if Sam is fit to play 90 minutes, she is starting. There is not even a question and the team knows it," he said on Friday.
"We're talking about Sam Kerr here. Whether she is ready to play 90 minutes plus extra time, that's to be decided tonight. But there is no question whatsoever that if she is, she is starting."
— CommBank Matildas (@TheMatildas) August 12, 2023
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