On the eve of the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Azerbaijan 2012, FIFA and the LOC gathered before the press to give their perspectives on what this tournament means for country, the preparations involved and what the next four weeks may hold.
Speaking before the media were FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter; Elkhan Mammadov , Chairman of the Local Organising Committee; Anastasia Tsichlas, Acting Chairwoman for the FIFA Organising Committee; Tatjana Haenni, FIFA Head of Women’s Competitions and Rovnag Abdullayev, President of the Azerbaijan Football Association. FIFA.com reviews the press conference.
Joseph S. Blatter, FIFA President
On the hosts
It’s a great moment in FIFA’s development of women’s football for us to have the possibility to organise this women’s competition in a country where the culture is different to every other country where we have organised women’s football so far. Azerbaijan and Baku are at the joining point of different civilisation and different cultures and this shows football is a game for everybody and shows that women’s football is open to all.
On a vintage year for women’s football
It has been a tremendous year for women’s football and this is the last women’s competition of the year. In the past two months we have had the Olympic football tournament – 600,000 tickets were sold for the women’s football, this has never been done. Then we had the U-20 Women’s World Cup in Japan and this was also a great success. I have to say the quality of women’s football has increased.
On the tournament
I would like to thank the president of FIFA for the trust to organise such a very important tournament. It’s exciting to think that the teams are in place and ready to begin.
On their new U-17 side
We only set this team up in the last 26 months but they have come through some good preparations, including some friendly matches with other international teams. We have certain targets and I am sure they will hit them.
Elkhan Mammadov, LOC Chairman
On the fans
We would like to encourage all the fans to come over and support the teams and come into the venues and stadiums during the tournament.
Anastasia Tsichlas, Acting Chairwoman of the FIFA Organising Committee
On the Azerbaijan U-17 side and the organisation
If your team performs the way the organisation has worked with FIFA they will be a tremendous success. Coming from the FIFA World Cup in South Africa, I have found the atmosphere to be great here.
Tatjana Haenni, FIFA Head of Women’s Competitions
On the favourites
The beauty of a youth competition is that it’s so hard to predict as it’s only players born in certain years. If you look at the last tournament in 2010, Korea Republic won in Trinidad and Tobago and did not qualify for this event, so I really think it is hard to say. I think it will be very interesting to see the teams’ performances and it’s really hard to pick any one team.
On the triumph of the Azerbaijan U-17 women’s team
We are amazed at the work the Azerbaijan football association has done in the past to build up their team and the women’s U-17 national team. I think for them they have won already due to the fact that they have a team, an infrastructure and leagues now so it doesn’t matter but the result. We of course wish them good luck but it’s really a fantastic achievement that the team participates in the event.