2015 Women’s World Cup, coming to Canada

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canada-soccerCanada will host and also be one of 24 nations taking part in the 2015 Women’s World Cup. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

It’s was made official this month: The best women’s soccer players in the world are coming to Canada, 6 June to 5 July.

The cities of Vancouver, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Montreal, and Moncton have been selected to host tournament matches. Halifax was also considered, but removed itself from contention in March 2012. Toronto decided not to bid, due to potential conflicts with the 2015 Pan American Games. Due to FIFA’s policy against commercial sponsorship of stadium names, Investors Group Field in Winnipeg and TD Place Stadium in Ottawa will be known by generic names during the tournament.

Canada has previously hosted FIFA tournaments including the 1987 FIFA U-16 World Championship, 2002 FIFA U-19 Women’s World Championship and the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup, which set an attendance record for that tournament.

FIFA, soccer’s world governing body, on officially named Canada as the host nation of the 2015 Women’s World Cup, rubber-stamping its bid after Zimbabwe pulled out of the running earlier in the week.

Zimbabwe was Canada’s lone opposition, so when it withdrew from the race, Canada was virtually assured of staging the competition — all that was left to do was for FIFA was to formally evaluate and approve Canada’s bid.

Peter Montopoli, general secretary of the Canadian Soccer Association, heralded the decision as a major milestone for Canadian soccer.

“It’s a big deal for our country. It is a nation-building event,” Montopoli told CBC News over the phone from Zurich where Thursday’s announcement was made by FIFA.

“We saw in 2010 with the Winter Olympics what a great competition and event can do for a country. We hope we can continue that theme for the sport of soccer … and for women’s [soccer] in Canada.”

Montopoli also opined that the 2015 World Cup would touch sports fans in Canada in way that single-city Olympic events, such as the 2010 Vancouver Games, haven’t in the past.

“For the first time in our country there’s an event that will be held coast-to-coast — [in] five different time zones [and a] minimum of six different provinces — that each and every Canadian can touch and feel,” Montopoli said.

Canada will also stage the Women’s Under-20 World Cup in 2014.

Canada previously hosted the inaugural women’s Under-20 World Cup in 2002, as well as the men’s Under-17 World Cup (in 1987) and the men’s Under-20 World Cup (in 2007).

The Canadian government has already committed up to $15 million in funding to the Canadian Soccer Association to run the 2015 tournament and the 2014 Under-20 World Cup.

“Hosting these tournaments will further enhance Canada’s reputation as a sporting country and allow us to showcase several cities to a global television audience,” Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in a statement.

Canadian soccer gets a boost

Seven cities were involved in Canada’s bid for the 2015 World Cup: Edmonton, Vancouver, Winnipeg, Montreal, Ottawa, Moncton, N.B., and Halifax. Six cities will host games at the tournament, so one city will have to be eliminated from the mix.

Toronto was not part of the bid because it will host the 2015 Pan American Games.

Official host cities will be announced in the future following FIFA’s site inspections.

This summer’s World Cup in Germany involves 16 teams, but the 2015 tournament will see the field expand to 24 competing nations.

This announcement was the latest good news to befall Canadian soccer.

The men’s Under-17 team reached the final of the CONCACAF championship, earning a spot at the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Mexico this summer.

canada-day-flagIt marked the first time the Canadians qualified for the World Cup in 16 years.

Members of the women’s senior team also recently lifted their boycott in support of embattled coach Carolina Morace, defeating Italy 1-0 in their opening game of the Cyprus Cup.

The women are using the tournament as preparation for this year’s World Cup, which runs from June 26 to July 17. Canada plays the Germans on the first day of the tournament.

The Canadian Soccer Association is the governing body for association football in Canada, the highest participation sport in the country. Tremendously popular in the early part of the 20th century, the sport has been on the upswing in the 21st century on the heels of a confederation title in 2000, the hosting of successful FIFA events for men’s and women’s football, and the re-emergence of professional clubs in the country.

Founded in 1912, the Dominion of Canada Football Association (as it was then known) became a member of FIFA on 31 December 1912. The Association naturally held strong ties to Great Britain and the British FAs because of Canada’s standing as a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations at the time. Of note, the trophy for Canada’s first national competition was donated by then Governor-General the Duke of Connaught (Prince Arthur of the British Royal family). In 1926, the Connaught Cup was replaced by the FA Trophy (donated by England) for the annual Challenge competition.

The Canadian women are currently ranked ninth in the world.

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