The historic showdown between the Matildas and England has broken Australian viewing records.
The Women’s World Cup semi-final against the Lionesses reached 11.15 million viewers nationwide on Wednesday night, drawing an average audience of 7.13 million on Seven and 7Plus.
The numbers mean it’s the most-watched TV show in Australian homes for over 20 years and the country’s biggest-ever streaming event, with 957,000 online viewers in the tally.
The game peaked at 6.9 million viewers during its broadcast, with a commercial audience share of 89.8 percent over the total number of people.
7plus dominated viewing with your own device with a share of 76.2 percent. When live streaming, it had an 84.4 percent share.
The historic showdown between the Matildas and England has broken Australian viewing records
Seven’s coverage of the Cup has reached 14.04 million viewers to date, plus a further 3.4 million on 7plus.
Hordes of fans flocked to live sites across the country to tune in for the game, which the Matildas lost 3-1, with thousands gathering in Melbourne’s Federation Square to cheer on the women in green and gold.
But the Victorian event’s exuberance was dampened after police faced unruly young men in the crowd.
The team’s Women’s World Cup semi-final against the Lionesses drew 11.15 million viewers nationally on Wednesday night, drawing an average audience of 7.13 million on Seven and 7Plus
Officers constantly tried to ensure the safety of fans, but spectators broke through temporary fences several times.
More than 50 flares were set off, some of which were thrown into the crowd.
A spokeswoman for Victoria Police said she was unaware anyone had been injured.
Seven’s coverage of the Cup has reached 14.04 million viewers to date, plus a further 3.4 million on 7plus
“Overall it was a challenging night for our members in Federation Square where we saw a large, rowdy group of mostly male youth, part of the active supporter groups, fire and throw a significant number of flares,” she said.
Police issued fines of more than $960 to four men between the ages of 16 and 23 for possession of flares, and warned another 16-year-old boy for throwing a flare.
Detectives are investigating the use of flares in Federation Square and have secured CCTV footage.
Fans would once again gather in Federation Square on Saturday to watch the Matildas take on Sweden in a bid to secure third place in the World Cup.
Melbourne Mayor Sally Capp suggested the event may not go ahead due to behavior at Wednesday night’s screening.
“(It’s) really disappointing,” Ms Capp told Melbourne radio station 3AW.
“So if we could find those idiots and keep them from coming, Fed Square would be off again, but unfortunately the few sometimes ruin it for the rest of us.”
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said anyone using flares in Federation Square should have the book thrown at them, and Victoria Police would assess whether it was safe to hold Saturday night’s display there.
However, a few bad apples wouldn’t stop the site from being used for screening major events, he said.
“Flares are dangerous and I don’t think those people represent the vast majority of football fans, football fans who want to enjoy what is an absolutely spectacular game, the beautiful game,” Andrews told reporters.
In NSW, fans suffered long delays getting home from Sydney’s Olympic Park on Wednesday evening after a suspected act of vandalism left the rail network in disarray.
The Ashfield incident affected trains from around 10pm, around the time the semi-final, which England won 3-1, closed in front of a crowd of more than 75,000.
Two men, aged 47 and 33, have now been charged by NSW Police.
The Matildas will face Sweden in the play-off for third place on Saturday at 5.30 pm.