Home Canadian Soccer Great day for Canada, bad day for FIFA: We get the World Cup no one else wanted

Great day for Canada, bad day for FIFA: We get the World Cup no one else wanted

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FIFA has announced that Zimbabwe has withdrawn its bid for the 2015 Women’s World Cup, leaving Canada as the only bidder left.

Canada’s official bid book was presented to FIFA in mid-February. But, while it’s almost a certainty that FIFA will confirm the Canadian Soccer Association’s successful bid on March 3, Canada is not yet officially declared the host.

Canadian women’s national teamer Kaylyn Kyle couldn’t hide her excitement: “Canada will host the 2015 Womens World Cup!!” she tweeted, before the news of the Zimbabwe withdrawal had hit the newswires.

Canada’s bid book did not specify host cities or where the final would be played. Those details are finalized after the tournament is awarded, and FIFA does have input into the choice of cities. On Thursday, when Canada’s bid is confirmed, it is expected that a list of “candidate” cities will be announced. But those cities (and venues, or plans for venues) will still need to be looked over by FIFA officials.

It will be interesting to see where the final will go; if the WWC is held in the traditional June-July window, it conflicts with the Pan Am Games in Toronto. Edmonton brought out more than 47,000 fans to attend the final of the 2002 Women’s U-19 championship, and has that in its favour. There are cases to be made for Montreal and Vancouver, as well.

But, while Canadian soccer fans are euphoric over the news of the Zimbabwe pull-out, it is horrible news for the women’s game as a whole that the tournament will be awarded not through a vote, but by acclimation. In the end, Canada got the Women’s World Cup that no one wanted. On the other hand, FIFA has four countries to choose from for the 2014 Women’s U-17 World Cup, which presents far less of a financial risk for the hosts.

Canadian soccer fans need to pay attention to FIFA on March 18. That’s when all remaining tickets for the 2011 WWC in Germany go on general sale. The “last-minute” phase of ticketing, as FIFA likes to call it, continues right through to the World Cup itself. On that date, we will know how many tickets are left unsold through the first four selling phases, including ticket lottery. If big matches, including any games involving the hosts, semifinals or final, still have lots of good seats left, it’s cause for concern.

Being closer to the United States, and the PR machine that is our neighbour’s national team, will help the 2015 WWC in Canada. But, FIFA needs to address why, in the end, only one country stood to apply to host the grandest tourney in women’s soccer. And, we have to be honest, the Zimbabwe bid was always a pie-in-the-sky attempt, based more on convincing FIFA to bring the tournament to Africa for the first time rather than any real economic principles.

Why, to all soccer federations minus one (OK, two, Germany wouldn’t host two in a row), is this tournament so unappealing?

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