The Socceroos will open their 2018 FIFA World Cup campaign in Perth later this year, with the national team’s first qualifying match for international football’s biggest tournament to kick off at nib Stadium.
Premier Colin Barnett, Sports and Recreation Minister Mia Davies and Football Federation Australia chief executive David Gallop were on hand at the 20,500-seat nib Stadium today to make the announcement.
"This place, when it’s packed, and we expect it to be packed for the Socceroos, will be a great night for football fans," Mr Gallop said.
Details of the Socceroos’ opponent or the exact timing of the match, however, will not be known until the qualifying draw in April.
The 2018 World Cup will be held in Russia.
While Mr Gallop would not reveal specific details, he said the state government had made a particularly attractive offer to FFA to host the first qualifying match in Perth.
“We want to bring the Socceroos around the country, we’ve got a number of opportunities to do that over the next 12 to 24 months, but it’s also important that we make a good commercial return,” Mr Gallop told reporters today.
“The Western Australian government have made it worth our while, and I think it’s exciting for us to be back in Perth after 10 years.”
Mr Barnett said the deal was negotiated through state government agency Tourism WA.
“I don’t know the details of the negotiation and the contract but obviously the state government is supporting this through Tourism WA, as we supported the Giants and other events,” the premier said.
“It will be a capacity crowd and there is great interest; international coverage through television and other outlets is all good for WA.
“The state government has made a huge investment into sport, the $95 million upgrade here of nib Stadium, Perth Stadium is now into construction, the Netball Centre is about to open, the Elite Sports Centre is now under way, so I think this was the reward we were looking for as a government, to see international-standard events come here.”
Ms Davies said she anticipated the match to have a flow-on effect to the sport at a community level.
“We’ve seen and we anticipate a huge uplift in grassroots sports off the back of the Socceroos success in the Asian Cup,” she said.
“I anticipate that we’ll see that off the back of this announcement today as well, and what a fantastic opportunity for people to see some of our elite sportspeople right here in a fantastic venue.”