The football world turned its gaze to wintry Frankfurt on Monday, where an audience of 600 guests and some 200 media representatives gathered at the Congress Center to attend the Official Draw for the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2011™ in Germany.
Those present enjoyed a glamorous and entertaining ceremony. "There are still 209 days until the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Germany. The tournament will be the highlight of next year. And why? In Germany, we write fairytales, in summer and in winter." These were the words with which presenter Sven Voss greeted the Congress Center audience and the watching millions at home, before welcoming German FA (DFB) President Dr. Theo Zwanziger to the stage. "We’re looking forward to a fantastic tournament," Zwanziger declared.
The musical highlight of the evening was provided by German rock-pop combo Wir sind Helden, who performed their song Alles auf Anfang. Immediately afterwards, there was a real sense of tension in the air, as FIFA’s Head of Women’s Competitions Tatjana Haenni and LOC President Steffi Jones stepped forward to present and supervise the draw. Football legend Gunter Netzer joined top model and women’s football ambassador Adriana Karembeu to make the draw itself.
The result is a line-up promising both the fans and the 16 participating teams plenty of action and excitement at the tournament, which starts on 26 June and runs through 17 July next summer.
Two-time winners and host nation Germany will play Canada, France and Nigeria in Group A. The opening match of the FIFA Women’s World Cup on 26 June 2011 in Berlin is the meeting between the home team and the Canadians. "I hope France make it as far as possible. I’m a patron of the team and feel more and more involved every day. France turned in some fantastic performances in qualifying, and I hope they keep it up at the World Cup. I know they have the potential," Karambeu told FIFA.com.
USA, also twice winners in the past, face an intriguing challenge in Group C, where Pia Sundhage’s team meet Korea DPR, first-time qualifiers Colombia and Sweden. The group sees a couple of early reunions between familiar foes, as the US meet the Asians in the group stage of the FIFA Women’s World Cup for the fourth time in a row, and the Scandinavians for the third time in succession.
The draw also threw up some fascinating clashes in Groups B and D. Group B appears very evenly-matched, where seeds Japan take on New Zealand, Mexico and England. In Group D, Brazil do battle with Australia, Norway and Equatorial Guinea.
FIFA Women’s World Cup group line-up:
To round off the 45-minute ceremony, broadcast in more than 200 countries around the world, Voss called all 16 national coaches up to the stage, where the group bade farewell to the live and TV audiences. The glittering show in Frankfurt certainly proved one thing beyond any doubt: Germany is ready for next year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup.
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