ZURICH: FIFA says it is confident the 2015 Women’s World Cup, which begins tomorrow, will be “well attended” despite the recent crisis at the head of world football writes CHRISTIAN RADNEDGE.
The tournament begins with hosts Canada taking on China at the Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton.
The 2015 edition of the Women’s World Cup is set to be the biggest ever, not least because a record 24 teams are competing in comparison to 16 who took part in Germany 2011, and 12 who competed in the first edition in 1991.
A total of 52 matches will be played culminating in the final at Vancouver’s BC Place Stadium on July 5th. No match is yet sold out, but FIFA say that around 900,000 people have bought tickets and that they are expecting that number to rise throughout the month.
A FIFA spokesperson said: “There has been high interest in the competition and ticket sales continue to increase as we get closer to kick-off. It is difficult to give a detailed breakdown as ticket figures are changing on a daily basis.
“However, around 900,000 spectators have already secured their seat. Together with the National Organising Committee, who are continuing a number of ticket promotions currently, FIFA is confident that the event will be well attended.”
It’s not only the number of teams that has increased for this tournament, as the prize money has gone up too. The winning team will scoop $15million, around double of what Japan were awarded for triumphing in extra-time over the US in Germany to lift the trophy.
FIFA maintains it is also concerned about leaving a legacy in the country, a controversial after some tournaments.
A statement said: “Through additional investment in football and social development programmes, FIFA is working to create a favourable environment for the host country Canada to achieve a positive and lasting legacy for the event.
“For example, FIFA and Canada Soccer have worked closely on delivering Live Your Goals festivals, to inspire more young Canadian female players to get involved in the game.
“A new physical literacy programme supported by FIFA and Canada Soccer in conjunction with Physical & Health Education Canada (PHE Canada) has been implemented in schools across the country with positive results so far.”
The build-up to the tournament has been slightly overshadowed somewhat by the ongoing crisis at FIFA which involves a US Department of Justice investigation in which several senior officials at FIFA were detained in Zurich last week among 14 indicted on racketeering and corruption allegations.
The investigation also includes scrutiny of the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cup hosting rights to Russia and Qatar, as well as revelations by former FIFA exco member Chuck Blazer that he accepted bribes along with other senior figures for votes in the 1998 and 2010 World Cup bidding processes.
Events of the past week have led to FIFA president Sepp Blatter announcing he is to step down, despite being re-elected for a fifth term in office at the FIFA congress last Friday.
This week FIFA said secretary-general Jerome Valcke would not attend at the opening of Canada 2015 due to the “ongoing situation” but that Blatter would attend the final.
Following Blatter’s shock announcement, it remains to be seen what kind of FIFA presence will be in Canada over the coming weeks.
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