Matildas to bring international sport back to Sydney with Brazil series confirmed for October
The Matildas will play on home soil for the first time in more than 19 months after the NSW government approved Football Australia’s landmark biosecurity measures and accepted hosting rights of a two-game friendly series against Brazil in October.
The decision by the state government to host the games means football will be a test case for the gradual reopening of Australian borders to major international sporting events after the COVID-19 outbreak that has put much of Australia into lockdown in recent months.
It will begin with the Matildas two-match series against Brazil on October 23 and 26 at Commbank Stadium in Parramatta and opens the door for the Socceroos to also return home for November’s World Cup qualifier against Saudi Arabia.
Football Australia is understood to have been given the green light by the federal government to by-pass the mandatory 14-day hotel quarantine after proposing unprecedented biosecurity measures, including the requirement for all travelling players, staff and coaches to wear proximity tracking wristbands.
After being unable to get approval of a state government to allow teams in for the September or mid-October World Cup qualifiers, the NSW government became the first to accept the proposal beginning with the Matildas’ series against Brazil in late October. The agreement was signed-off on Saturday with the state government that will see the team play in Australia for the first time since an Olympic qualifier on March 6 last year.
“We have made it our priority to bring our national teams home for international football so this is a phenomenal outcome for Australian football and one which we have been working tirelessly towards behind the scenes with both the Federal and NSW Government for a considerable amount of time now and appreciate the efforts of the NSW Government in particular,” Football Australia chief James Johnson said.
Football Australia’s quarantine management plan that has been accepted by federal and NSW government will see team’s arrive in Australia and remain in bubbles before games, having no contact with the general public. They will remain in individual hotel rooms at all times outside of meals, training sessions and games and be assigned proximity wrist bands that provide rapid contact tracing, monitor all movements with data easily provided to the NSW department of health. Large nets will be erected at Commbank Stadium to prevent the match ball reaching the crowd to prevent potential contact with the general public.
The plan also includes strict health monitoring before and during travel to Australia with players and staff tested for COVID-19 before departure. While yet to be confirmed, sources suggest this will likely require all travellers to be vaccinated.
The Matildas also hope to announce a home friendly series against world champions USA for late November. The Socceroos have been forced to play their first two home World Cup qualifiers in neutral territory after being denied entry into Australia without 14-day quarantine. They beat China 3-0 in Qatar and will face Oman at a neutral venue on October 7.
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