Austrian FA defend decision to hold crucial qualifier against England in small 3,000-seater stadium


Austrian FA defend decision to hold crucial Women’s World Cup qualifier against England in small 3,000 stadium after tickets quickly sold out following the success of the Euros

The Austrian FA have defended its decision to hold their Women’s World Cup qualifier against England at a 3,000-seater stadium despite the growing interest following this summer’s Euros.

England and Austria are the two top teams in their qualifying group but the Lionesses will seal top spot if they avoid defeat on Saturday evening.

The two teams played in front of a record crowd at Old Trafford in the Euros opener on July 6 and the tournament as a whole saw more fans attend than ever before. England went on to win the competition while Austria were beaten by runners-up Germany in the quarter-finals.

Group leaders England face second-placed Austria in crucial World Cup qualifier on Saturday

This fixture, the first either side have played since the Euros, sold out quickly and it has been suggested that a bigger venue could have been used given the soaring interest in the women’s game.

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But Austria said the decision was made based on their average attendance, which is below 2,000. They added that this is the first time a women’s national game has sold out and that a greater demand for tickets could not have been foreseen.

The stadium choice had to be submitted to UEFA 60 days before the fixture, which was July 5 – a day before the opening game of the Euros. A change in venue after the tournament was subsequently not possible. Austria also said that after Euro 2017, where they made the semi-finals, they played the Netherlands, who were European champions at the time, in a bigger stadium but only attracted a crowd of just over 2,000.

The two teams played in front of a record crowd at Old Trafford in the Euros opener on July 6

The two teams played in front of a record crowd at Old Trafford in the Euros opener on July 6

A full statement from the Austrian FA read: ‘The decision to play the fixture in Wiener Neustadt was made before the Euros. The decision was made because of many factors.

‘Our record home crowd dates back to 2012 and is only 3,600 and we have only experienced a crowd of 2,000 plus once in the past four or five years.

‘Saturday will also be the first sell-out in the Austrian women’s national team history. After the 2017 Euros, where we reached the semi-finals, we played our first home game against the Netherlands, who at that time were champions of Europe, in a bigger stadium and only a crowd of around 2,000 attended.

‘The SC Wiener Neustadt Stadium is our home base because it has by far the best pitch quality of all the stadiums that would host us and is located close to our basecamp.

‘A late change wouldn’t have been possible cause you need to lock the stadium in at UEFA 60 days in advance of the fixture.’

There will be around 2,700 fans in attendance on Saturday due to 300 “seat kills”.

After playing Austria, England will host Luxembourg at Stoke City’s Bet 365 Stadium on September 6, which is also sold out

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