Just over 8000 raucous fans packed into the iconic Federation Square in Melbourne at 2am on Thursday to watch Australia advance to the Round of 16 with a stunning 1-0 upset win over Denmark.
There were wild scenes as Socceroos supporters hugged strangers, let off flares and screamed with delight at ‘Fed’ Square as Mathew Leckie’s strike secured Australia’s first appearance in the World Cup play-offs in 16 years.
Sydneysiders, on the other hand, were left flummoxed and frustrated that in Australia’s biggest city, they were forced to pack into pubs like sardines (which then spilled out onto the streets) after the NSW Government choose not to run a live site for the world’s biggest tournament.
Socceroos fans packed into Melbourne’s iconic Federation Square to watch the Socceroos advance to the Round of 16 with a win over Denmark
Meanwhile in Sydney, where there was no public viewing sites, a number of fans spilled out onto George Street from pubs and let a flare off
In a press conference on Thursday, Perrottet grinned like a Cheshire cat as he announced that, yes, Sydney would get it’s own World Cup live site that would be even better than Melbourne’s iconic square.
‘We’re going to have a great live site, it’s going to be the best in the country. We’re going to have a great announcement very shortly. It’s going to be awesome,’ Perrottet
‘I want everybody in the city and across the state to come out and enjoy the game.’
Except there was no venue, or even the vaguest of details. Aside from the fact the game will start at 6am (AEDT) on Sunday.
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet insists that Sydney’s live World Cup viewing site will be the ‘best in the country’ despite having no venue yet
The Opera House forecourt is already ruled out, with the venue booked for a Pixies concert.
Martin Place and Circular Quay were suggested by fans on social media, but with just two full days until the match the clock is already ticking. Perrottet insisted an announcement would be made shortly on the site.
Socceroos legend Craig Foster implored NSW to make it happen, but suggested the vibe at Federation Square that would not be rivalled.
Foster also called on Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to call a public holiday on Monday should Australia do the unthinkable and beat Argentina.
Excited fans of all ages headed to Melbourne’s Federation square to watch their Socceroos on the grandest stage of all
Socceroos hero Mathew Leckie scored the crucial goal that secured Australia’s spot in the World Cup Round of 16
‘I would have loved to have experienced it (Federation Square) myself,’ he said.
‘This is creating history. We’re playing against [Argentinian captain] Lionel Messi. The next generation of kids want to be out there experiencing it, alongside the fans – experiencing the emotion, the passion, what this game is all about.
‘This is an occasion when all of Australia needs to come out … People should be on the streets across all of our towns, along with the cities, and if we win then Albo’s (Albanese) got to do something, because no one’s turning up on Monday, that’s for sure,’ said the ever-enthusiastic Foster.
Long referred to as the ‘Nanny State’, Perrottet did manage to allow trading hours to be extended for licenced venues showing the games, but that was not enough for frustrated fans – some who thought it was too late anyway.
The City of Sydney council, of which Clover Moore is Lord Mayor, released a statement saying they would not be running one, while an online petition was started by one fan to ensure Sydney got its site.
The Domain, near Sydney’s Royal Botanical Gardens, is believed to be out as well, as it also has a pre-planned event.
‘If not the Opera House, Darling Harbour at a bare minimum. The Australian football team is the only team that unites our entire country. This needs to be done,’ petition organiser Luke di Stefano told the Sydney Morning Herald.
Stay tuned for Perrottet’s imminent announcement on the greatest live event in Australia that is yet to currently exist – but for now it’s probably safe to say Melbourne still has the title of ‘Australia’s sporting capital’ well and truly stitched up.