FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter and FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke have made a two-day visit to Canada. On the agenda was the announcement of the six Host Cities of the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015™ and the Canadian Soccer Association’s (CSA) centenary celebrations.
Accompanied by the Chairman of the Committee for Women's Football and the FIFA Women's World Cup Worawi Makudi, and Caribbean Football Union Representative Jeffrey Webb, the FIFA delegation arrived in Ottawa on Friday for the Host City announcement ceremony.
Beforehand the FIFA President had met with the Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper at his office in the city, where they were joined by defender Rhian Wilkinson and goalkeeper Karina Leblanc of Canada’s national women’s team.
Following a relaxed meeting in which the quartet reflected on the FIFA Women’s World Cup Germany 2011, Blatter made a visit to Parliament Hill in the company of CSA President Dominique Maestracci and the Minister of State for Sport Bal Gosal. The trio posed for a photo with a group of young female football players before having the honour of kicking-off a match the girls were playing on the pitches in front of the parliament buildings.
It was then time for the unveiling of the six Canada 2015 Host Cities at a ceremony compèred by former Canada women’s team coach Sylvie Beliveau and ex-international Kara Lang.
Edmonton, Moncton, Montreal, Ottawa, Vancouver and Winnipeg were the six cities selected, prompting Bal Gosal to comment: “It is not every day that the people of Canada have the chance to see world-class football in their own backyard.” During the ceremony internationals Leblanc and Wilkinson presented the FIFA President with a Canada scarf.
Then it was on to a press conference, during which Blatter commented on a number of subjects, including the importance of the women’s game.
“Women’s football is opening up and developing right across the world,” he said. “That’s the social and cultural value of our sport. Football is an education in life itself, and thanks to this World Cup women are going to win, football is going to win and the country is going to win.”
Blatter also took the opportunity to point out what still needs to be done to take women’s football forward in the future: “We need more championships to develop women’s youth football, women’s refereeing and coaching, and we have to get more women involved in running the game.”
The following day the FIFA President attended the CSA’s AGM at the Ottawa Convention Centre, where Victor Montagliani was elected the Association’s new president.
“I am delighted to be here for the Canadian Soccer Association’s centenary,” said Blatter. “I have had something of a love affair with the CSA. Following the 1976 Olympic Games, the U-17 World Cup in 1987, the U-19 Women’s World Cup in 2002, the U-20 World Cup in 2007 and now these two tournaments in two years, Canada is unquestionably on the world football map. I also hope that the interest generated by the Women’s World Cup will lead to the creation of a women’s league.”
Speaking at the official dinner that followed, the FIFA President thanked Mr Maestracci for all his hard work and welcomed Mr Montagliani to the football family before wishing the CSA a very happy 100th birthday.