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31st Jan 2023

Ireland set for 82,000-seat World Cup opener as Arsenal reject huge Katie McCabe bid

Patrick McCarry

“Absolutely no chance.”

Ireland may be on the move for a big World Cup game but Katie McCabe looks set to be staying put, with Arsenal.

FIFA have confirmed that Ireland’s World Cup opener against Australia, on July 20, will now take place in the 82,500-seat Stadium Australia venue, in Sydney.

The game was due to take place at the 42,000 Allianz Stadium but such is the demand for tickets that tournament organisers have arranged for the change of venue. Should that game sell out, it would set the third-highest attendance record of all time for a women’s football match.

“FIFA’s mission is to organise the biggest and best Women’s World Cup in history this year, and fans, those who bring colour, passion, and atmosphere to stadiums will be such an integral part of the tournament’s success,” said FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura.

“With this in mind, we have taken a decision that will enable over 100,000 fans to attend [three games across] the opening match-day, providing more opportunities for supporters to engage with the World Cup as a month of football we will never forget gets underway.”

Meanwhile in women’s football, two of the leading players in the Women’s Soccer League, in England, are subject to big-money move speculation.

Katie McCabeRepublic of Ireland captain Katie McCabe before a FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 Qualifier match against Slovakia. (Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile)

Katie McCabe and Alessia Russo speculation

In the past 48 hours, there has been some big-money transfer speculation involving Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United.

Arsenal were reported, by the Telegraph and Guardian, to be lining up a £450,000 bid for Manchester United and England star Alessia Russo. Some of that bid could be supported by Chelsea buying Katie McCabe, the Ireland captain, for £200,000. That would have been the highest ever transfer fee for an Ireland women’s player.

However, Arsenal boss Jonas Eidevall has denied that McCabe would be moving on. His comments were soon backed up by Chelsea boss Emma Hayes.

“I didn’t speak to Katie about that,” said Eidevall. “Katie and myself have never spoken about her leaving. We only speak about what we can create here at Arsenal. There is absolutely no chance of that move happening.”

There will be no players coming in and I won’t be changing that perspective,” Hayes stated. “This was always maintained that it would be a quiet window for us. I don’t discuss rumours. I don’t talk about other players. I’ve said there’ll be no players coming in.”

Russo, it appears, will not be joining McCabe at Arsenal. Further bids were made for Russo, who is out of contract later this year, but United are hanging on to the World Cup winner.

At present, the most expensive transfer in women’s football was the £450,000 paid for Keira Walsh when, last year, she moved from Manchester City to Barcelona.

Follow the latest transfer news in our dedicated hub here.

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