France hope to attract 1.3m fans to 2025 World Cup


Gavin Marguerite of France is tackled by Reed Mahoney of Australia in the in goal area during the U20's Rugby League match between Junior Kangaroos and France at WIN Stadium, Wollongong, Friday, October 25, 2019

Michel Wiener, executive director of the French candidature committee, says he expects 60 per cent of the support to come from within France, with the other 40 per cent coming from overseas.

The target, announced by tournament organisers on Tuesday, is almost double the 750,000 tickets organisers hope to sell for the 2021 World Cup, which will now he held in England in the autumn of 2022.

Wiener, who told an online press conference the 2025 World Cup will provide a pivotal moment for the game, says that – according to a recent survey – 33% of those questioned are ready to buy a ticket right now.

The survey, carried out from August 31 to September 3 on a national sample of 1,803 people, claims 88% of French people will support the tournament, which will include 64 teams across men’s, women’s, wheelchair and youth events.

France, which hosted the inaugural World Cup in 1954, was nominated by the International Rugby League as its “preferred hosts” following the withdrawal of the United States and is now waiting for the final go-ahead from the French government.

Organisers, who plan to stage the 80 matches in 40 towns, villages and cities across France, say they are buoyed by the findings of the survey.

Wiener said: “This in-depth study reveals the strong support of the general public, beyond just sports fans, for our model of major international sporting event.

“It extends the excellent reception recorded by local authorities and the socio-economic fabric. We are very happy to be able to rely on this popular support to promote France’s candidacy for the organisation of this World Cup.

“This will be a unique tournament incorporating more children, women and disability teams than ever before and will be a decisive moment for French Rugby League and the game as a whole worldwide.

“We have excellent relationships with the ruling bodies in Australia, New Zealand and UK and we will work very closely to ensure this tournament is a celebration of international rugby league.”

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Jerome Fourquet, director of the opinion and business strategies institute IFOP which conducted the survey, said: “The results illustrate that rugby is today a sport which arouses interest and attracts a large audience.

“A total of 31% of French people aged 18 and over (ie. more than 15 million) declare that they are ‘very’ or ‘fairly’ interested in rugby, a level equivalent to that of football (29%).”