While Canada had a dismal showing at the last FIFA Women's World Cup, Christine Sinclair, right, and the rest of the squad have qualified for the 2012 London Olympics.
The 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup will be a bigger event for Canada than any Olympics, FIFA president Sepp Blatter said Friday.
Blatter was in Ottawa to announce the six host cities for FIFA’s showcase women’s event, which include the nation’s capital, Vancouver, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Montreal and Moncton, N.B.
The decision came following a yearlong series of site inspections in seven cities. Halifax was also in the running, but opted out in March because of a lack of funding for the building of a new stadium.
“It will be a great, great World Cup,” said Blatter. “It is more than has ever been presented in Canada, including, I would say, the (2010) Olympic Games.
“It is an event that will have a bigger social, cultural impact than the Olympic Games. (It) has a greater legacy than the Olympic Games. Women’s football opens the borders all over the world. This is the social, cultural value of our game. Football is the school of life.
“Women will win. Football will win. Canada will win.”
The 2015 Women’s World Cup will feature a record field of 24 countries, up from the 16 that competed in Germany in 2011 when Canada went 0-3-0.
Last March, Canada was named host country for the 2015 event after Zimbabwe opted out. Canada will also host the U-20 Women’s World Cup in 2014, but cities for the competition have yet to be announced.
Canada previously hosted the men’s U-20 World Cup in 2007, women’s U-19 World Cup in 2002 and men’s U-17 World Cup in 1987.
A schedule of the games, and the location of the opening game, semifinals and finals, will be unveiled later this year, Canadian Soccer Association spokeswoman Michele Dion said Friday.
The Women’s World Cup, held every four years, attracts a sizable worldwide audience. During the 2011 tournament in Germany, 248.5 million people from 181 countries watched a game for at least 20 minutes, according to a viewership report done by FIFA. Live matches drew an average global audience of 13.2 million and the final game between Japan and the United States was watched by 62.8 million.
The tournament is the largest single sports event for women and will be the first single sport event in Canada to be held from coast to coast.
“It is not every day Canadians get to see world class soccer right in their backyard,” federal Minister of Sport Bal Gosal said during the announcement.
Close to 30 million women and girls play soccer around the world, according to FIFA, while Canada boasts 350,000 female players.
John Herdman’s Canadian side is currently gearing up for the London Olympics with a three-month residency camp in Vancouver.
Seventh-ranked Canada plays a friendly against China in Moncton on May 30, and games follow against the U.S. and in Switzerland, where they’ll play an Olympic warm-up tournament.
With files from Ottawa Citizen, Edmonton Journal