Matildas fans completely dudded by 'ridiculous' TV move for Olympics warm-up match

Australian football fans have been left out in the cold once again.

Matildas fans have been left sorely disappointed after coming to the realisation they won't be able to watch their match against Canada on Sunday morning on free-to-air TV. The Matildas will take on Canada in a practice match in Spain at 5am on Sunday (Australian time), which will serve as a key tune-up before the Paris Olympics.

But fans in Australia who want to watch the match will need a subscription to Paramount Plus. Network 10 holds the rights to all Socceroos and Matildas games (in conjunction with streaming service Paramount), and only a select few are shown on free-to-air.

Matildas players Mary Fowler, Caitlin Foord and Steph Catley.
Mary Fowler, Caitlin Foord and Steph Catley look on before a Matildas game. (Photo by James Worsfold/Getty Images)

Paramount decides which games are shown on Channel 10, but the streaming company wants to get subscriptions by putting certain fixtures behind a paywall. One such fixture is the Matildas and Canada game on Sunday morning, meaning it won't be shown on Channel 10 for free.

The 'Sports Industry' Twitter account shared the news on Wednesday, writing: "Despite the Matildas’ intense popularity and mega ratings since the 2023 World Cup, Paramount ANZ has opted against broadcasting the Matildas v Canada via free-to-air on Channel 10. This important preparatory game will only be broadcast live and exclusive on subscription service Paramount."

Matildas players, pictured here warming up for a training session.
Matildas players warm up for a training session. (Photo by Mark Brake/Getty Images)

Needless to say it left fans up in arms. "Ridiculous, National Team games should be on free to air," one person wrote. Another commented: "I cannot believe Channel 10 decided not to broadcast the Matildas game on TV, even though it is in early morning. Instead Channel 10 decides to screen home shopping programs. Channel 10 claims that home shopping is more important than soccer game."

A third wrote: "Anti siphoning laws need fixing. All men’s and women’s internationals in rugby league, rugby union, cricket, netball, basketball and soccer/football should be shown live on free to air. If no commercial network wants to show it then it MUST be shown on ABC or SBS."

The popularity of the Matildas has grown exponentially since the Women's World Cup in Australia last year. The decision to put them behind a paywall only increases the frustrations with the state of the Aussie game and broadcasting at the moment.

Last month, Aussie legend Robbie Slater described it as a 'disgrace' that the Socceroos were behind a paywall for a World Cup qualification game against Bangladesh. A fan replied to Slater asking: "Can’t you do something about it, Robbie?". To which he replied: "No but Football Australia should have!"

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It continues a worrying trend for professional sport around the world, with streaming services taking over. As well as Matildas and Socceroos games being on Paramount, the recent T20 Cricket World Cup was exclusive to Amazon Prime. The English Premier League and Euro Championships are exclusive to Optus Sport, the Champions League is only on Stan Sport and certain AFL and NRL games are exclusive to Kayo and Foxtel. Test cricket matches held in Australia remain on free-to-air, but ODI and T20 internationals have moved to Foxtel.

The Matildas will be without captain Steph Catley and defender Kaitlyn Torpey against Canada due to injury concerns. Catley is the stand-in skipper due to Sam Kerr's ACL injury, while Torpey shapes as a key part of the Aussie team.

Football Australia hasn't provided timelines or specifics on either injury, but confirmed on Wednesday that both players will remain with the Matildas squad in the extended training camp during their rehabilitation. It is understood the Matildas are working to ensure both players are ready for Australia's opening game at the Olympics - against Germany on July 25.

with AAP