PM Supports Holiday for Matildas' World Cup Win
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has expressed his support for the idea of instituting a public holiday in the event that the country's women's soccer team, the Matildas, emerge victorious in the Women's World Cup. The Matildas have managed to secure a place in the tournament's semi-finals, a remarkable feat in itself. They achieved this by triumphing in a tense penalty shootout against France, where goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold played a pivotal role by saving three penalty kicks after having missed her own.
The upcoming semi-final match against European champions England, scheduled to take place in Sydney, is anticipated to garner a substantial viewership on Australian television, potentially surpassing previous records for soccer game broadcasts. Anthony Albanese voiced his stance on the matter during a radio interview with the state broadcaster ABC. He suggested that leaders of individual states and territories should seriously consider the proposal for a public holiday and mentioned that this sentiment has been well received by various quarters. Albanese emphasized that this event holds significant cultural and societal value beyond its status as a sporting spectacle. He highlighted its potential to inspire not only young girls but also young boys across the nation.
The unique federal structure of Australia permits individual states and territories to independently declare additional public holidays. To this effect, Albanese indicated that discussions regarding this proposition would be initiated with regional leaders on the upcoming Wednesday. Chris Minns, the leader of New South Wales, the country's most populous state, pledged to declare a public holiday within a week of the tournament's conclusion if the Matildas secure victory in the final match.
Soccer, despite being a globally popular sport, has historically faced challenges in achieving the same level of prominence in Australia as other football codes like rugby league and Australian rules football. The women's soccer segment, in particular, has struggled with issues such as low attendance and inadequate funding. However, the Matildas' remarkable performance in the World Cup has bucked this trend. Their matches have consistently sold out months ahead of time, and the television viewership numbers have rivaled those seen during the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
The historical context of national pride tied to sporting achievements is not lost in this conversation. In 1983, former Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke famously declared an unofficial national public holiday to commemorate the end of 132 years of American dominance in the America's Cup sailing race. His proclamation, "any boss who sacks anyone for not turning up today is a bum," reflects the potent symbolism that sporting triumphs can hold for a nation's identity and collective spirit.