The FIFA Task Force Football 2014 met for the second time at Home of FIFA in Zurich on Tuesday 25 October 2011. One of the committee members is Tracy Lu, who also serves on the Committee for Women's Football and the FIFA Women's World Cup. After the Task Force session, the Chinese official spoke to FIFA.com.
FIFA.com: What was discussed at the meeting of the FIFA Task Force Football 2014?
Tracy Lu: It was a very productive meeting, where we discussed various topics related to the development of the game. I was very happy to have the chance to focus on women’s football, and I’m grateful to FIFA for their 100 per cent support for this discussion. The governing body’s support for developing the women’s game in recent years has been instrumental to its success.
How can the development of women’s football be further improved?
We still have a long journey ahead of us, not just in women’s football, but in sport for women as a whole. But now is a very good time to be accelerating the pace of development. Most people still have fresh memories of the exceptionally successful FIFA Women’s World Cup™ in Germany. We need to build on this fantastic platform and create a bridge between the grassroots and the elite. We need to persuade our member associations to support the development drive with appropriate programmes. We’re hoping for a host of promotional programmes at grassroots' level over the next few years. England is a good example for focused development of the women’s game, or Australia, where there’s a new women’s league. Women’s football has long been a respected and established sport in Sweden and the USA. We have to support the development track from the grass roots right up to the elite, working closely with the confederations and associations.
How important are next year’s FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup and FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in that process?
I’m a big proponent of youth World Cups for women. These tournaments are an important building block in developing and promoting the women’s game. I attended the last two U-17 Women’s World Cups in New Zealand and in Trinidad and Tobago, and I saw for myself how the locals became significantly more interested in the sport as a result.
The FIFA Women’s World Cup Germany 2011 was won by Japan, who were not among the pre-tournament favourites. How would you assess Japan’s triumph last summer?
The fact that it was won by a team from a different continent to the reigning world champions was a good advertisement for the women’s game. Japan deserved to win the World Cup, and it was also a fitting reward for ten years of steady development. The top Japanese players have been carefully and individually coached for many years now, and they showed just how far you can go on the basis of passion and commitment. Congratulations to Japan for setting such a wonderful example.
FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter and Michelle Bachelet, UN Women Executive Director, recently held talks regarding potential opportunities for co-operation. What’s your view of that?
Sport incorporates considerably more than a specific physical discipline. There are much higher values in play. On and off the field, women can act as role models and symbolise shared values. It would be wonderful if football could play a significant role in promoting gender equality.
What are the main things you think of if you compare women’s football today with the game 20 years ago?
The quality of the game has improved enormously. The goals-per-game average at this year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup was the lowest in tournament history, which is undoubtedly a positive. Basically, it shows just how many teams have consistently improved over the last 20 years, and that the top teams are evenly-matched nowadays. Naturally, I’m hoping this trend continues in the years to come.
You’re participating in the FIFA Master Programme, which is supported by FIFA and the International Centre for Sport Studies. Can you tell us about your experiences there?
It’s a fantastic programme where you learn an unbelievable amount, including the social and cultural dimensions of sport and football. It's a very intensive programme which brings people together in an international context. Our students come from all over the world, and almost 50 per cent of them are women. It's a wonderful thing.