High hopes for FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup

High hopes for FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup

"Of course the aim is to win the World Cup both with the U-20 team next year and then the following year with the senior team as well”, said DFB-Vice-President Hannelore Ratzeburg at the OC’s New Year party.

13 July will usher in a new dawn at the DFB, as the women take centre stage in Germany just two days after the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ Final in Johannesburg. "The men will have to take a back seat for a year," confirmed DFB President Dr. Theo Zwanziger at the FIFA Women's World Cup Germany 2011™ Organising Committee's New Year event in Frankfurt on Tuesday. "It's going to be a year of Girl Power."

Zwanziger's dream is for Joachim Low's Germany to emerge triumphant in the men's final in South Africa on 11 July, two days before the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup 2010 begins in Germany on 13 July. Another year down the line and the DFB can look forward to staging yet another major sporting event as the FIFA Women's World Cup comes to Germany for the very first time between 26 June and 17 July 2011. Anticipation levels are rising by the day and the excitement among the 200 guests at the OC's New Year party at the DFB headquarters was palpable.

At this rate, the atmosphere in the host cities of Bielefeld, Bochum, Augsburg and Dresden come June 2011 is set to be every bit as special as the summer fairytale that was Germany 2006 almost four years ago. "Germany will once again prove to the rest of the world what a hospitable and friendly host it is," said German Chancellor Angela Merkel in a video message from Berlin. She invited the whole football community to enjoy the tournament featuring the 16 best women's teams in the world. "Everybody should be there when Queen Football rules the world," she continued.

The initial ticket sales for the sixth FIFA Women's World Cup have gone "sensationally well" according to DFB General Secretary Wolfgang Niersbach, with a reported 190,000 tickets already sold in the first three months. "The response has been incredible," said Niersbach, who is confident that the second sales phase, beginning in mid-February, will be equally successful.

"I'm working under the assumption that we'll have sold at least 350,000 by August," said OC President Steffi Jones. "I'm not talking about filling 80 per cent of the stadiums, I'm talking about 100 per cent. The players will be giving 100 per cent, after all," said the 2003 world champion. All  the planning and preparations for the FIFA Women's World Cup 2011 appear to be well on track. "It's a massive job to organise a World Cup," added Angela Merkel in her message from the capital. Indeed, Steffi Jones has attended no fewer than 250 meetings over the past year alone.

One of the main highlights of the evening was a speech by Claudia Roth. The head of the German Green Party maintains close ties with football and is a member of the board of trustees for the FIFA Women's World Cup 2011. She describes herself as a true "football fan who feels right at home in the friendly world of football".

She spoke of her belief that the power of football knew no bounds and how the game and the DFB in particular had achieved a great deal in the way of integrating various nationalities and cultures. Roth held the attention of her predominantly male audience magnificently. "Dr Theo Zwanziger is one of the greatest poets of modern times," she explained, evidencing her statement with one of his quotes. "He told us that the ball doesn't care who it touches." No doubt a fine way of describing football's truly global appeal. The DFB President has encouraged the slogan among various fan and anti-racism groups.

Roth went on to say that if the DFB can implement Dr. Zwanziger's plans for an environmentally friendly FIFA Women's World Cup, then they will have achieved a great deal more than just staging a major international sporting event. "The Green Goal idea is a great example to the rest of the world. Football can be the role model that politics can no longer claim to be," said Roth in reference to the "failure of the summit in Copenhagen". As reigning world and European Champions, the German women's national team are "ambassadors for a new way of life".

She also told of her visit to Kabul where she met several Afghan women's footballers, many of whom had posters of Germany legend Birgit Prinz all over their walls. DFB General Secretary Niersbach ensured she was able to present them with "a real treasure from the archives", giving her a green kit from Germany's 1990 FIFA World Cup semi-final victory against England. "It was the men's team, unfortunately," joked Niersbach.

With world and European champion Simone Laudehr (Duisburg) and U-20 international Dzenifer Maroszan among those present, DFB Vice-President Hannelore Ratzeburg confirmed his high hopes for the German women's team for 2011. "Of course the aim is to win the World Cup both with the U-20 team next year and then the following year with the senior team as well," he said. The German women's team won the FIFA Women's World Cup in both 2003 and 2007, while the U-20s, who came third in 2008, won their edition in 2004.

It looks like the men are going to have to wait until 17 July 2011, once the Germany women's team have - if all goes to plan - completed their FIFA Women's World Cup hat-trick, before they can take over the torch once again.