Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has been sensationally put in his place by Weekend Today host Sophie Walsh after sharing a tone-deaf social media post about the Women’s World Cup.
Mr Andrews on Tuesday uploaded a photo showing hundreds of fans packed into Melbourne’s Federation Square to watch the Matildas in their victorious match against Denmark.
Their round 16 win on Monday evening, in front of almost 76,000 raucous fans at Sydney’s Stadium Australia, set a free-to-air program record for the biggest audience for Channel 7 in 2023.
The event captured 2.29 million people across Australia’s major cities – more than game one of Channel 9’s State of Origin match.
Mr Andrews took to Twitter after the game to share a photo of Melbourne’s Federation Square packed with Aussie supporters decked out in green and gold.
“If you ever hear someone say that nobody wants to watch women’s sport, show them this”, he wrote.
Today host Walsh swiftly chimed in to suggest his sentiment was outdated.
“Most people haven’t been saying that for years Premier, but thanks for the reminder,” she wrote in a re-share of his post.
Her reaction was echoed by many who agreed that implying no one cared about women’s sport was an unhelpful, ancient perspective.
“I think I’ve seen more posts saying ‘and they say nobody wants to watch women’s sport’ than I’ve seen actual posts from anyone saying nobody wants to watch women’s sport. Let’s just celebrate it without baiting bad faith commentary from those that would say it,” a response to Mr Andrews’ post read.
“It’s great to see women in all sports finally getting the recognition and respect the deserve … I love soccer but am enjoying watching the Matildas so much! Hope they win,” another remarked.
Others celebrated the way the game had brought people from all walks of life together.
“This was simply a sensational turnout of people to watch their team. I’ve loved the response of people to the Matildas. The families, the excited children, the Aboriginal people and the many migrant groups. It was heart warming and tear jerking. Loved it. Go Matildas,” one wrote.
Still, despite what the numbers revealed, some people remained convinced “nobody wants to watch” the women’s game.
“In comparison to any other major sporting event, I’d still say nobody wants to watch this. Good on them for pulling the numbers they did. But they will never compare to a sold out Grand Final stadium. Or even the preliminary finals in the NRL/AFL,” one person argued.
Major men’s sporting events however were easily eclipsed by Monday’s game, with it having an average audience higher than every NRL grand final and every Origin since 2016.
It also drew more viewers than all but two of the AFL grand finals in the same time frame, sport blogger Jason Lassey revealed.
Monday’s game beat the Channel 7’s previous 2023 record, which had been beaten only a few days earlier by the Matildas game against Canada.
Those who streamed the event on Seven’s 7plus also set a new record with 384,000 people using the service to watch the game.
Trailing Cathy Freeman’s historic 400 metres at the 2000 Sydney Olympics which attracted more than eight million viewers, Australia’s narrow loss to England in the 2003 Rugby World Cup final has been the biggest ratings success with an average of four million viewers.
With the Matildas on fire at the World Cup, their quarter-final performance may just knock the boys from the top spot.