Matildas statue plan divides opinion after historic run at Women's World Cup

Annastacia Palaszczuk wants to build a statue of the Matildas outside Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.

Annastacia Palaszczuk, pictured here alongside Matildas players.
Annastacia Palaszczuk wants to build a statue to commemorate the Matildas. Image: Getty

Plans to build a statue to commemorate the Matildas' historic run to the semi-finals of the Women's World Cup have divided opinion across Australia, with many questioning the merits of the move. The Matildas became the first Australian football team (male or female) to make the semi-finals of a World Cup, going one better than the Socceroos last year when they made the quarters.

However the Matildas had to settle for fourth place after losing to England in the semis, before going down to Sweden in the third-place game. Nevertheless, the fourth-place result marked a historic achievement for Aussie football and should rightly be celebrated.

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But many are questioning what message it would send to build a statue. Speaking on Sunday at a celebration for the Matildas in Brisbane, Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk revealed she wants to build a statue of the Matildas outside Suncorp Stadium - the scene of their famous penalty shootout victory over France in the quarter-finals.

A statue of Wally Lewis, pictured here outside Suncorp Stadium.
Wally Lewis is immortalised in bronze outside Suncorp Stadium. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

"As a lasting tribute to the 2023 Matildas, we will build a statue at Suncorp Stadium," she said on stage at Brisbane's Riverstage. "There are plenty there, celebrating our male sporting champions, it's time we celebrated women as well. You deserve your place amongst the greatest."

The likes of rugby league legends Wally Lewis and Allan Langer, and former Wallabies captain John Eales are immortalised in bronze outside Suncorp Stadium. However none of our female sporting champions are.

Palaszczuk said the Queensland government would fund the building of the statue, and that discussions are taking place with Football Australia to decide the design. An iconic photo of the players reacting to Cortnee Vine's winning penalty is the leading candidate.

Plan to build Matildas statue divides opinion

While many agree with the move and would love to see the Matildas honoured with a statue, others are questioning if it would actually belittle the players considering they came fourth. Some have asked what would happen if the Matildas win the World Cup one day and we've already got a statue of the team that came fourth.

Australian basketballer Andrew Bogut tweeted: “Matildas did well……Statue? No. A Gold/First Place is a statue and over the top celebration worthy achievement. Anything below is good, have a celebration or two, then move on. This goes for all Sports btw. A for effort, N for No statue.”

Sam Kerr and Annastacia Palaszczuk, pictured here with a photo memento presented to the Matildas.

Tennis player Nick Kyrgios responded: “Agree. Great effort! Statue for fourth is nuts but they had us all on the edge of our seats! Next time.”

Julian O'Brien commented: "If you think it's about winning or losing, you are missing the point. It's about a celebration of an iconic moment of time in our history and in the growth and recognition of women's sport in this country. About a moment which united the country as much as any event in recent memory. It's about encouraging our kids to dream big. The games they won or lost, or the result actually don't really matter here."

Others pointed out that the money would be better invested into women's football and grassroots funding. On the back of the Matildas heroics, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced a new $200 million investment into women's sport on Saturday. However many in the football world were left fuming that it wasn't given directly to their sport.

A number of Matildas players have urged the government to invest more into women's football in Australia, while coach Tony Gustavsson said: "I want to be very clear that I want to see investment now, I really do. I want to see investment. And I mean like a real investment that we're serious about what we're doing."

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